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Commerce Unveils 23 Grants Totaling $160 Million

WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2010 – The Commerce Department this week announced 23 broadband grants across the nation totaling more than $160 million.

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WASHINGTON, Mar. 4, 2010 – The Commerce Department this week announced 23 broadband grants across the nation totaling more than $160 million.

The grants are:

California
Level 3 EON: $3.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $1.1 million applicant-provided match to build 11 new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection – essentially on-ramps to the Internet – will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 240,000 households, 9,900 businesses, and 240 anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.

Florida
Level 3 EON: $2.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $689,000 applicant-provided match to build seven new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 180,000 households, 12,300 businesses, and 100 community anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.

School Board of Miami-Dade County: $3.5 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $996,000 applicant-provided match to increase broadband adoption among low-income middle school students and their families by an estimated 15,000 households. The project plans to offer 60,000 hours of computer training to 30,000 students and their parents, provide low-cost refurbished laptops to 6,000 students and their families, and offer discounted Internet service to 10,000 families.

Georgia
Columbia County Information Technology Department: $13.5 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $4.5 million applicant-provided match to build a 220-mile, county-wide fiber network to connect nearly 150 community anchor institutions and enhance healthcare, public safety, and government services throughout the region. The project plans to facilitate the creation of a high-capacity data center at the Medical College of Georgia, support a sophisticated county-wide traffic and water control system, enable 60 free Wi-Fi hotspots in public locations, and construct five wireless towers to enhance public safety communications as well as improve wireless communications capabilities throughout the region.

Level 3 EON: $1.4 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $476,000 applicant-provided match to build four new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection – essentially on-ramps to the Internet – will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 198,000 households, 13,000 businesses, and 190 anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.

Illinois
Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois: $22.5 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $6.8 million applicant-provided match to construct 187 miles of fiber-optic broadband network in Urbana, Champaign and Savoy to provide high-speed connectivity to community anchor institutions, and support fiber-to-the-home services in four low-income neighborhoods. The project expects to provide speeds of at least 100 Mbps to directly connect 143 anchor institutions, including schools, social service agencies, healthcare facilities, youth centers, public library systems and higher education institutions.

Indiana
Educational Networks of America: $14.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $4 million applicant-provided match to improve educational opportunities for an estimated 290,000 students and library patrons by deploying 560 miles of fiber that will deliver 100 Mbps connections to 145 public schools and libraries. In addition, the project expects to spur affordable broadband Internet service for as many as 200,000 households, 30,000 businesses and 630 community anchor institutions by enabling local Internet providers to connect to the project’s open network.

Kansas
Level 3 EON: $998,000 broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $333,000 applicant-provided match to build four new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 50,000 households, 3,600 businesses and 150 community anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies, and healthcare providers.

Louisiana
Deaf Action Center of Louisiana: $1.4 million public computer center grant with an additional $436,000 applicant-provided match to install 81 new videoconferencing stations, and enhance the user experience at 19 existing stations that serve people who are deaf and hard of hearing in Northwest Louisiana, and individual sites in Alabama, California, and Texas. The project intends to use broadband and videoconference technology to provide on-demand, cost-effective sign language interpretation at community anchor institutions such as hospitals, courts, public safety agencies, shelters, schools and libraries.

Massachusetts
OpenCape Corp.: $32 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $8.3 million applicant-provided match to deploy 350 miles of fiber and over 100 miles of microwave broadband network links in the Cape Cod region, directly connecting more than 70 anchor institutions, including emergency shelters, libraries, colleges, academic research facilities and town or public safety facilities. These anchors would receive 100 Mbs service, allowing them to support a wide range of economic, educational, public safety and healthcare-related applications.

Cambridge Housing Authority: $699,000 public computer center grant with an additional $541,000 applicant-provided match to reopen and expand three public computer centers that serve approximately 10,000 public housing residents, including low-income households, immigrants, seniors and minorities. The Cambridge Housing Authority intends to replace 24 workstations and add 16 new ones at the centers to serve an expected 420 new users per week with access to broadband technology, computer courses, job training and literacy programs.

Maryland
Coppin State University: $932,000 public computer center grant with an additional $275,000 applicant-provided match to provide broadband access and computer education to the Coppin Heights-Rosemont community, a low-income neighborhood in Baltimore, Maryland with a high minority population. Consistent with the community’s existing revitalization plan, Coppin State University will establish a 60-workstation computer center for use by the local community, and anticipates offering 15 training and educational courses on a regular basis, serving more than an estimated 500 users per week and more than 12,000 unique users within two years.

North Carolina
Mitchell County Historic Courthouse Foundation: $239,000 public computer center grant with an additional $60,000 applicant-provided match to more than double the number of public computer workstations available to residents of Mitchell County, provide job training and educational courses through the local community college and extension service, and expand broadband Internet access by creating a Wi-Fi hotspot in the newly-renovated historic courthouse that will reach the adjacent library and parts of downtown Bakersville, North Carolina.

New Mexico
Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority: $176,000 public computer center grant with an additional $52,000 applicant-provided match to expand the capacity of one public computer center and create an additional public computer center at two public housing sites, offering broadband access and computer training to low-income families, minorities, disadvantaged youth, disabled, and elderly Santa Fe residents. The project expects to add 13 new broadband workstations and replace seven workstations, enabling the centers to increase the number of users served per week from 27 to 135.

Ohio
OneCommunity: $18.7 million sustainable broadband adoption grant with an additional $4.8 million applicant-provided match to employ a collaborative strategy to expand broadband adoption by almost 20,000 households in targeted communities in five states. OneCommunity plans to work with non-profit and community organizations to implement neighbor-to-neighbor broadband adoption and awareness campaigns reaching an estimated 334,000 low-income individuals, and provide training and services to an estimated 33,000 people in Akron, Cleveland, and Zanesville, Ohio; Detroit, Michigan; Gulfport/Biloxi, Mississippi; Lexington, Kentucky and Bradenton, Florida. (This project benefits Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, and Mississippi as well.)

Oregon
Lane Council of Governments: $8.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $2.1 million applicant-provided match to enhance an existing fiber-optic backbone and deploy 124 miles of fiber-optic network that will deliver broadband capabilities across three large, mostly rural counties and the Klamath Tribal region in Western Oregon. The project plans to enhance education, healthcare delivery, job training, and government services by providing 100 Mbs connections for more than 100 community anchor institutions, including medical centers, public safety entities, schools, community colleges and libraries.

Puerto Rico
Iniciativa Tecnolégica Centro Oriental (INTECO): $12.9 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $3.4 million applicant-provided match to deploy a multifaceted 515 mile network that will include both wireless and fiber connections in some of the neediest areas of Puerto Rico. The project plans to directly connect nearly 250 anchor institutions including schools, hospitals, municipal facilities, police stations and libraries. It will also facilitate new or improved broadband Internet access for local consumers, including up to 300 anchor institutions, 136,000 households, and 600 businesses and industrial centers, by enabling local service providers to connect to the project’s open network.

Tennessee
Level 3 EON: $1.3 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $432,000 applicant-provided match to build four new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 188,000 households, 9,600 businesses, and 150 community anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies and healthcare providers.

DeltaCom: $9.4 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $2.3 million applicant-provided match to provide a 544-mile high-capacity fiber-optic broadband network that will provide high-speed connections for more than 50 community anchor institutions in five Eastern Tennessee communities, from Chattanooga through Knoxville to Johnson City and Bristol. The project expects to spur more affordable broadband Internet access for over 34,000 households, 5,000 businesses, and 270 anchor institutions by allowing local Internet providers to connect to the project’s open network.

Texas
Level 3 EON: $4.7 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $1.6 million applicant-provided match to build 17 new access points on Level 3’s existing broadband network. These additional points of interconnection will offer broadband speeds between 50 Mbps and 10 Gbps on an open and nondiscriminatory basis to local Internet service providers, enabling them to provide enhanced broadband capabilities to as many as 400,000 households, 21,000 businesses, and 214 community anchor institutions, including schools, government agencies and healthcare providers.

Wisconsin
The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System: $5.1 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $3.7 million applicant-provided match to deploy more than 100 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure to provide high-capacity broadband Internet connections for community anchor institutions, and enable last-mile broadband services throughout the Madison, Middleton, and Monona, Wisconsin region. The project expects to directly connect nearly 100 community anchor institutions, including schools, public safety organizations, and a community college, at speeds of up to 10 Gbps.

West Virginia
Hardy Telecommunications: $3.2 million broadband infrastructure grant with an additional $814,000 applicant-provided match to build a 177-mile high-capacity fiber-optic network to Hardy County, West Virginia, a sparsely populated region of the state with difficult terrain. The project intends to connect an estimated 35 anchor institutions, such as emergency agencies, government offices, libraries, and colleges, as well as spur more affordable high-speed Internet service for up to 1,900 households and 190 businesses by enabling local Internet service providers to connect to the project’s open network.

WorkForce West Virginia: $1.9 million public computer center grant with an additional $568,000 applicant-provided match to improve access to job information, career counseling, and skills training by upgrading and expanding 20 WorkForce West Virginia One-Stop career centers throughout the state. This project intends to replace all of the existing 165 computer workstations at the centers, add 80 new workstations, and serve almost 2,300 additional users per week, nearly double their current traffic.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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U.S. Broadband Deployment and Speeds are Beating Europe’s, Says Scholar Touting ‘Facilities-based Competition’

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WASHINGTON, June 10, 2014 – In spite of press reports to the contrary, U.S. broadband coverage is not falling behind European levels of service, academic Christopher Yoo said on Wednesday at the National Press Club.

“It seems like every other week there’s a new infographic or news story that talks about how the U.S. is falling behind in broadband speeds, we don’t have fiber to the home, and telecom companies are rolling in the profits while consumer prices soar,” said Doug Brake, telecommunications policy analyst with The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, setting up the topic tackled in by Yoo in his presentation.

On the contrary, said Yoo, the founding director of the Center for Technology, Innovation and Competition, the U.S. led in many broadband metrics in 2011 and 2012. And, he said, it is precisely the absence of a “one size fits all” regulatory structure that has been been driving technological innovation forward in the marketplace.

In other words, according to Yoo, the American approach to facilities-based competition – where cable companies and telephone companies compete through rival communications networks –has succeeded.

While the findings may be “surprising” to some, Yoo said they proved the importance of examining the best approach to broadband regulation based on “real world data.”

The notion that “fiber is the only answer” to affordable high-speed broadband is a misconception, he said. Countries emphasizing fiber over rival technologies – including Sweden and France – were among the worst broadband performers.

In the U.S., 82 percent of households received broadband at speeds of at least 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), versus 54 percent in Europe. In rural areas, the difference was even greater: 48 percent in the U.S., versus 12 percent in Europe. The five countries that did beat U.S. coverage of greater than 25 Mbps (including Denmark and the Netherlands) are compact, urbanized regions with greater population densities.

Additionally, even looking at fiber-based technologies, the U.S. is outperforming Europe, he said. Fiber coverage in the U.S. went from 17 percent in 2011 to 23 percent in 2012. In Europe, fiber coverage went from 10 percent in 2011 to 12 percent in 2012.

And, based on the measurement of telecommunications investment per household, the U.S. number is more than double that of Europe: $562 versus $244 in the old world.

And, he said, American users consumed 50 percent more bandwidth than Europeans in 2011 and 2012.

“The best measure of how much a network is really worth is how much you use it,” Yoo said. “It’s great to have a very fast car, but unless you use it, it’s not really doing very much for you.”

One area where the U.S. could see improvement is in the area of broadband adoption, Brake said. That demonstrates continued need to demonstrate value in broadband for consumers.

Yoo agreed: “Availability is only a part of the question. There are plenty of people who have broadband available to them who are choosing not to adopt.”

Moderator Gerry Faulhaber added: “As regulators, we can mandate coverage, we can mandate buildout. What we can’t do is mandate people to use it.”

Keeping a series of tiered rates for broadband service is exactly what America’s broadband rollout needs, said Brake. That not only encourages consumers to purchase internet at lower introductory rates, it also efficiently places the burden on those who wish to pay more for higher-speed service. This helps to recuperate costs for networks.

“Is it better to provide 75 to 100 Mbps to 80 to 90 percent of the population, or one Gigabit per second to 10 to 20 percent of the population?”

Blair Levin, former director of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, and now communications a science fellow at the Aspen Institute, said that comparisons with Europe doesn’t change America’s objective to build deeper fiber, use broadband to improve the delivery of goods and services, and connect more users.

“Which activity is more productive – looking at oneself in the mirror and asking, ‘do these jeans make me look fat?’ or going to the gym? Focusing on actions that improve one’s condition is better than wondering about how one should appear relative to others,” said Levin.

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Discussion of Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event on High-Capacity Applications and Gigabit Connectivity

WASHINGTON, September 24, 2013 – The Broadband Breakfast Club released the first video of its Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event, on “How High-Capacity Applications Are Driving Gigabit Connectivity.”

The dialogue featured Dr. Glenn Ricart, Chief Technology Officer, US IGNITESheldon Grizzle of GigTank in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Todd MarriottExecutive Director of UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, and Drew ClarkChairman and Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com.

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WASHINGTON, September 24, 2013 – The Broadband Breakfast Club released the first video of its Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event, on “How High-Capacity Applications Are Driving Gigabit Connectivity.”

The dialogue featured Dr. Glenn Ricart, Chief Technology Officer, US IGNITESheldon Grizzle of GigTank in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Todd MarriottExecutive Director of UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, and Drew ClarkChairman and Publisher, BroadbandBreakfast.com.

To register for the next Broadband Breakfast Club Virtual Event, “How Will FirstNet Improve Public Safety Communications?,” on Tuesday, October 15, 2013, at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. CT, please visit http://gowoa.me/i/XV8

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Breakfast Club Video: ‘Gigabit and Ultra-High-Speed Networks: Where They Stand Now and How They Are Building the Future’

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WASHINGTON, May 24, 2013 – Emphasizing the developing nature of broadband networks in the United States, speakers at the May 21 Broadband Breakfast Club event said that the recent achievement of ultra-high speed broadband networks has been a critical factor seeding transformative developments for organizations, individuals and communities. These developments, panelists said, were simply not possible before with slower speed networks.

Yet panelists at the event, “Becoming a Gigabit Nation: What Have We Learned About Ultra-High Speed Broadband?” also agreed that speed is not actually the most important factor in the maturing of these networks.

Event Highlights

Complete Program

Successful deployment of such networks requires concerted efforts and continual upgrades involving community leadership, assessment of consumer needs and desires, infrastructure development, application development and successful assessment of usage patterns. All of these factors affect the success of such gigabit and high-speed networks, panelists said.

In other words, high-speed networks need to be developed in concert with proposed applications, which are in turn developed in the context of their communities or customer base.

As gigabit cities consultant David Sandel said, gigabit and smart city transformation being undertaken is 90 percent sociology and 10 percent infrastructure. Sandel, president of Sandel and Associates, works with St. Louis, Kansas City and other communities worldwide and runs the Gigabit City Summit, a global forum of community leaders who are engaged in discussion on new forms of leadership for managing such networks.

Sandel said that new gigabit leadership must break out of traditional silos and engage in greater information exchange and collaboration. Less hierarchy, more inclusion and more communication, facilitate the success of gigabit services and applications, he said.

What’s Happening Now

Sandel and other panelists gave examples of how 100-plus megabit per second and gigabit-level connectivity is already providing considerable benefits to cities that have it – even where the majority of a city’s consumers do not yet have needs for those levels of service.

For example, Sandel described the success of a two-mile gigabit main street in St. Louis, Missouri. This project has attracted a number of innovative businesses to the area. He said that such projects carry several benefits to an entire city, such as enabling the use of cloud services, driving up real estate values, and creating high-value jobs. In addition, the current relatively higher costs of gigabit service in communities can be partially offset by institutional and industrial uses.

Similarly, Sheldon Grizzle, founder and co-director of the Chattanooga-based GIGTANK, a technology start-up accelerator, said that the implementation of gigabit broadband by the local utility EPB has been a boon to its electrical grid. Power outages in the area have decreased by 60 percent, he said.

Grizzle says that Chattanooga, as a small city of 170,000, sees itself as a good test case for gigabit networks. Its network now provides speeds of 50 Mbps for 50,000 subscribers. It also offers or Gbps symmetrical service (i.e. 1 Gbps upload and 1 Gbps download) for $300 a month, although the number of subscribers has been fewer. He attributed the relatively low demand for the gigabit offered to the high price point.

Grizzle said that GIGTANK has been recruiting application developers from around the world to build appropriate apps for the community, as Chattanooga’s gigabit network grows beyond its infancy.

Speed Issues

Notwithstanding high-profile gigabit build-outs in recent years, nationally broadband speeds have been steadily increasing by other methods over the last several years, said Kevin McElearney, senior vice president of network engineering and technical operations for Comcast Cable.

McElearney said that, for example, Comcast has innovated on nextgen technologies every year, increasing network speeds 11 times over the last 11 years, and is now running terabit links over the backbone to allow capacity for new applications. He said that Comcast now provides up to 100 Mbps download capacity, with 70 percent of consumers electing for 25 Mbps and 30 percent for tiers higher speeds.

McElearney said that Comcast sees the increasing use of multiple devices in households as the principal driver behind the demand for higher broadband speeds for consumers.

Application Development

William Wallace, Executive Director of U.S. Ignite, a developer of gigabit-ready digital experiences and applications, spoke of an “internet of immersive experience,” suggesting an internet experience completely different from prior experiences. Users will also be creating their own experiences, he said.

Wallace further noted that customization of network features around applications will help to build in the greatest efficiencies. For example, different applications will be characterized by different speeds, security features, cloud storage locations, latencies etc.

Scott Wallsten, vice president for research and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute, said that focus on ultra-high broadband speeds is misplaced. According to Wallsten, because internet speeds are already increasing consistently, policies focusing on speed are unnecessary. Instead, Wallsten said, greater attention should be paid to other metrics of broadband quality, such as latency and reliability.

Additionally, Wallsten stated that the government’s adoption programs should be focused on low-income inner-city non-adopters rather than rural high-speed development. He said that the Federal Communications Commission’s high cost fund portion of the Universal Service Fund has not been sufficient to pay for rural development. Instead, the best hope to help the most individuals get broadband is to focus on urban areas. Increased efficiencies in cities will offer a better chance for providers to lower costs and then expand network development in rural areas.

Sandel concluded with how education is critical for successful gigabit network development and that there should be a three-pronged approach: education for leaders as to the impacts and benefits of gigabit networks and applications across all sectors, development of clear economic development models that draw lines to revenue flows, and policies for inclusion of all populations so that everyone can participate.

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