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Using a Map of Communities Receiving Connect America Funds, FCC Uses Rigorous Approach to Targeting Broadband Subsidies

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WASHINGTON, September 6, 2013 – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday released a map demonstrating the location of more than 600,000 homes and business targeted to receive higher-speed broadband connections.

The map, dubbed the “Connect America Fund, Phase I, Round 2,” follows on the FCC’s announcement, on August 21, 2013, that eight telecommunications providers are scheduled to receive up to $386 million in funds in order to build more robust broadband connections to 606,161 locations.

This is the second round of the Connect America Fund (CAF), launched in 2011 by the FCC with the goal of making broadband more universally available across the country.

But the first round of CAF funding didn’t go as planned: only $115 million of $300 million in funds available was dispensed.

To help enhance the success of the second round, the FCC announced in May that it would also seek to elevate the speeds of broadband connections, in addition to bringing broadband to unserved areas. The agency currently defines broadband as 768 kilobits per second (kbps) download, and 200 kbps upload.

As a result, the FCC is offering two levels of subsidy: $775 per location in order to bring high speed internet to currently unserved areas. Additionally, the agency will provide $550 per location in order to up broadband speeds to the agency’s more robust level of 3 Megabits per second (Mbps) download, and 768 kbps upload.

The map released on Thursday shows the number of business or residential connections, and the amount of subsidy — $775 or $550 per location — that each carrier is targeted to receive.

The four carriers that are targeted to receive the greatest subisidies in this round of the Connect America Fund are: Windstream, at $124 million; AT&T, at $100 million; Frontier Communications, at $72 million; and CenturyLink, at $54 million.

Phase I Round 2 – Elections by Carrier and State*
ACS  AT&T CenturyLink  FairPoint  Frontier Hawaiian PRTC  Windstream  Total Dollar Support 
AK 316 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 $173,800
AL 0 27,822 4,599 0 1,223 0 0 4,074 $27,063,353
AR 0 5,213 6,238 0 0 0 0 19,342 $18,222,247
AZ 0 0 8,744 0 11,016 0 0 0 $12,696,840
CA 0 0 0 0 1,189 0 0 0 $712,897
CO 0 0 8,976 0 0 0 0 0 $5,155,275
FL 0 2,674 2,321 390 929 0 0 3,979 $6,455,989
GA 0 3,320 0 0 7 0 0 49,401 $30,259,496
HI 0 0 0 0 0 1,317 0 0 $1,020,675
IA 0 0 828 0 1,898 0 0 10,046 $7,292,115
ID 0 0 4,369 0 878 0 0 0 $3,057,888
IL 0 0 0 0 5,077 0 0 0 $3,140,633
IN 0 0 146 0 7,661 0 0 0 $4,617,804
KS 0 0 185 163 0 0 0 0 $215,925
KY 0 3,173 0 0 0 0 0 16,937 $11,871,050
LA 0 6,686 3,040 0 0 0 0 0 $6,857,882
ME 0 0 0 1,659 0 0 0 0 $1,034,850
MI 0 0 48 0 5,040 0 0 0 $3,057,542
MN 0 0 5,096 0 1,506 0 0 0 $3,991,764
MO 0 3,796 3,500 0 0 0 0 6,959 $8,988,527
MS 0 20,897 363 0 0 0 0 5,212 $19,509,846
MT 0 0 7,231 0 0 0 0 0 $4,297,225
NC 0 3,150 1,420 0 2,642 0 0 28,260 $20,950,161
ND 0 0 20 0 0 0 0 0 $11,000
NE 0 0 952 0 0 0 0 2,518 $1,979,600
NH 0 0 0 1,470 0 0 0 0 $848,100
NJ 0 0 60 0 0 0 0 0 $33,000
NM 0 0 2,781 0 2,623 0 0 3,378 $5,178,853
NV 0 0 24 0 500 0 0 0 $294,630
NY 0 0 0 599 17,656 0 0 7,395 $15,137,932
OH 0 0 964 0 3,632 0 0 5,184 $5,957,790
OK 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4,418 $2,785,400
OR 0 0 5,853 0 538 0 0 0 $3,742,578
PA 0 0 27 64 4,716 0 0 15,378 $11,234,255
PR 0 0 0 0 0 0 40,761 0 $31,589,912
SC 0 9,565 909 0 0 0 0 4,680 $10,505,280
SD 0 0 75 0 0 0 0 0 $48,900
TN 0 41,364 1,008 0 1,313 0 0 0 $33,349,109
TX 0 1,371 793 0 0 0 0 30,477 $20,200,265
UT 0 0 78 0 665 0 0 0 $427,630
VA 0 0 4,863 1,122 0 0 0 0 $3,547,575
WA 0 0 4,700 28 2,057 0 0 0 $4,215,125
WI 0 0 12,354 0 5,462 0 0 0 $10,146,817
WV 0 0 0 0 40,756 0 0 0 $24,106,003
WY 0 0 52 0 0 0 0 0 $34,225
TOTAL 316 129,033 92,617 5,495 118,984 1,317 40,761 217,638 $386,017,133
* – Some of the carrier acceptances are contingent upon carriers prevailing in challenges regarding whether certain census blocks are unserved.  Furthermore, after providing the Commission with notice, carriers have the ability to alter deployment plans to other unserved census blocks, which could result in more or less funding being allocated to any given state.
† – Carrier did not provide locations by census block, so these figures are estimated by assuming each block has an equal number of locations to be served.
‡ – Due to calculations and rounding, individual states do not exactly sum to total.

The map displays the location of awards to individual carriers on a Census block-by-Census block basis — the same unit of measurement deployed in the National Broadband Map created by the FCC, the Commerce Department, and its partnering State Broadband Initiative entities.

An equally significant aspect of this phase of the Connect America Fund is that several of the providers that are set to receive the greatest subsidy — including CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream — have promised to leverage the subsidy “it accepts in 2013 with an equal investment of its own capital to extend broadband to unserved locations.”

“We make this commitment because we believe that access to high-speed broadband has become an indispensable platform for economic growth and job creation, and for addressing major national challenges like education, health care, energy and public safety,” the CEOs of the three companies wrote in an April 2013 letter to Julius Genachowski, the former chairman of the FCC.

“The FCC’s new map will provide welcome news to millions of rural Americans who have been waiting far too long for broadband access,” Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn said of Thursday’s map. “Thanks to the latest round of Connect America funding, rural counties in every corner of the nation will get access to broadband for the first time.”

 

Education

Metaverse Can Serve as a Supplement, Not Replacement, For Educators: Experts

The virtual world where avatars can meet as if they were in real life can be a companion for education.

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Screenshot of the Brookings event Tuesday

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2022 – Experts said at a Brookings Institution event said Tuesday that while the “metaverse” can go a long way toward improving education for some students, it should serve as a supplement to those educational goals.

The metaverse refers to a platform of 3D virtual worlds where avatars, or virtual characters, meet as if they were in the real world. The concept has been toyed with by Facebook parent Meta and is being used as a test for the educational space.

“The metaverse is a world that is accessible to students and teachers across the globe that allows shared interactions without boundaries in a respectful optimistic way,” Simran Mulchandani, founder of education app Project Rangeet, said at Tuesday’s event.

Panelists stated that as the metaverse and education meet, researchers, educators, policymakers and digital designers should take the lead, so tech platforms do not dictate educational opportunities.

“We have to build classrooms first, not tech first,” said Mulchandani.

Rebecca Kantar, the head of education at Roblox – a video game platform that allows players to program games – added that as the metaverse is still emerging and being constructed, “we can be humble in our attempt to find the highest and best way to bring the metaverse” into the classroom for the best education for the future.

Anant Agarwal, a professor at MIT and chief open education officer for online learning platform edX, stated the technology of the metaverse has the potential to make “quality and deep education accessible to everybody everywhere.”

Not a replacement for real social experiences

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, senior fellow of the global economy and development at the Center for Universal Education, said that while the metaverse brings potential to improve learning, it is not a complete replacement for the social experience a student has in the classroom.

“The metaverse can’t substitute for social interaction. It can supplement.”

Mulchandani noted the technology of the metaverse cannot replace the teacher, but rather can serve to solve challenges in the classroom.

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Digital Inclusion

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel Emphasizes 100 Percent Broadband Adoption

‘It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,’ said the chairwoman.

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Photo of Kelley Dunne, CEO of AmeriCrew, leading panel on workforce issues at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit by Drew Clark

PARK CITY, Utah, June 28, 2022 – The Federal Communications Commission is making progress towards bringing “affordable, reliable, high-speed broadband to 100 percent of the country,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said at the Rural Wireless Infrastructure Summit here on Tuesday.

Rosenworcel pointed to the $65 billion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act now being deployed across the country, with a particular focus on unconnected rural and tribal areas.

Although the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration will take the lead with these funds, the FCC’s new broadband coverage maps will be important in implementing state digital equity plans.

In her remarks, Rosenworcel also discussed how the upcoming 2.5 GigaHertz spectrum auction will involve licensing spectrum primarily to rural areas.

At the July FCC open meeting, said Rosenworcel, the agency is scheduled to establish a new program to help enhance wireless competition. It is called the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program.

The program aims to build incentives for existing carriers to build opportunities for smaller carriers and tribal nations through leasing or partitioning spectrum. Existing carriers will be rewarded with longer license terms, extensions on build-out obligations, and more flexibility in construction requirements.

“It’s about making sure wireless connections are available in 100 percent of rural America,” she said.

She also indicated her commitment to work with Congress to fund the FCC’s “rip and replace” program to reimburse many rural operators’ transitions from Chinese-manufactured telecommunications equipment. She also touted the role that open radio access networks can plan in more secure telecommunications infrastructure.

In other news at the conference, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr addressed the role of funding broadband operations in rural America, the challenges of workforce training, and ensuring that rural carriers have access to high-cost universal service support.

In a session moderated by AmeriCrew CEO Kelley Dunne, panelists from the U.S. Labor Department, the Wireless Infrastructure Association and Texas A&M Extension Education Services addressed the need to offer a vocational career path for individuals for whom a four-year degree may not be the right choice. AmeriCrew helps U.S. military veterans obtain careers in building fiber, wireless and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

Broadband Breakfast Editor and Publisher Drew Clark contributed to this report.

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Broadband's Impact

Broadband Speeds Have Significant Impact on Economy, Research Director Says

From 2010 to 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove .04 percent increase in GDP, the study found.

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Photo of Alan Davidson of the NTIA, Caroline Kitchens of Shopify, Raul Katz of Columbia University (left to right)

WASHINGTON, June 28, 2022 – Broadband and higher speeds have made significant contributions to economic growth over the last decade, according to a study discussed at a Network On conference Tuesday.

Raul Katz, director of business strategy research at Columbia University, conducted his research to determine where the United States economy would be if broadband had not evolved since 2010. He developed four models to explain the economic contribution of broadband, and all found support to suggest that broadband development has contributed to substantial economic growth.

The long-run economic growth model showed that between 2010 and 2020, a 10.9 percent growth in broadband penetration drove a .04 percent increase in gross domestic product – the measure of the value of goods and services produced in the nation. States with higher speed broadband had an economic impact of an additional 11.5 percent.

“States with higher speeds of broadband have a higher economic effect,” said Katz. “Not only is there penetration as a driver, but there’s also… return to speed. At faster speeds, the economy tends to be more efficient.”

The study found that if broadband adoption and speed had remained unchanged since 2010, the 2020 GDP would have been 6.27 percent lower, said Katz.

Caroline Kitchens, a representative for ecommerce platform Shopify, said Tuesday that there’s been great growth in the ecommerce business, which relies entirely on a broadband connection. “Worldwide, Shopify merchants create 3.5 million jobs and have an economic impact of more than $307 billion. It goes without saying that none of this is possible without broadband access.”

“We have really seen firsthand how broadband access promotes entrepreneurship,” said Kitchens, indicating that this has promoted a growing economy in over 100 countries.

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