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Utah Poised to Be First State With Large-Scale Gigabit Networks: Speakers at Utah Broadband Summit

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PROVO, Utah, October 28, 2013 – The prospect and reality of Gigabit Networks throughout the country, beginning in Utah, are “creating bigger surface areas for the mind,” the chief technology officer of US IGNITE said here on Thursday.

Speaking at the Utah Broadband Summit here in Provo — selected a Gigabit city six months ago by Google Fiber — US IGNITE CTO Glenn Ricart said that Gigabit Networks offer untold benefits to individuals, businesses, universities and governments.

For example, Gigabit Networks allow companies to parse through “big data,” to offer services only available at an extremely low latency, and to “vitualize” a broadband network to suit customized needs for super high-speed bandwidth.

Utah, Ricart said, has a combination of advantages in the counties just north and south of Salt Lake City. In addition to Google’s commitment to Provo (home to Brigham Young University), Utah enjoys computer networking leadership through the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, and a premier institutional Utah Education Network.

Additionally, a consortium of 16 cities along the Wasatch Front mountain range are members of UTOPIA, the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, a Gigabit Network poised to offer service to more than a half-a-million residents and businesses.

Such a concentrated test bed for Gigabit Networks is hard to find, said Ricart, but Utah is poised “to make it happen.”

Ricart was the kickoff keynote speaker at the state broadband initiative summit here at the Utah Valley Convention Center. His organization, US IGNITE, is a national non-profit organization seeking to advance high-speed connectivity and software-defined networks.

Following lunch, the entire audience was addressed by University of Utah cybersecurity expert Matthew Might, and by Bhargav Shah, Senior Vice President of Overstock.com.

Comparing the adoption of super high-speed broadband to the rise of electricity consumption, Shah said that “disruptive technologies are becoming mainstream faster.”

In particular, he cited:

  • voice and data convergence
  • cloud computing
  • social media and networking
  • big data
  • mobile commerce
  • the internet of things

Speaking about Utah’s investment in technology and education, Shah said that the state has offered “incentives to attract technology companies, and hence tech talent in the near term” and “investment in education to fulfill demand for more technologies in the long term.”

Shah’s Overstock.com is a leading Utah-based internet retailer.

Might offered a sobering look at the challenges of cyber-warfare, offering many examples of cyber-attacks launched by terrorist organizations, and by the government of China and the United States. There is no easy fix to the problems of cyber-vulnerabilities, he said, other than continuing to invest in advanced mathematics.

Other breakout sessions throughout the day focused on topics including geographic information systems, broadband adoption, broadband planning for local governments, and commercial-grade broadband services.

During one noteworthy session, Steve Corbato, deputy chief information officer for the University of Utah, highlighted the university’s role as one of four notes on the ARPAnet, the Advanced Research Project Administration’s predecessor network to the internet.

In highlighting the technological advancements in applications, and in computer processing power, Corbato said that as a nation, “it is clear that the network is not keeping up with storage.”

Utah, however, enjoys a number of advantages, including Google Fiber, UTOPIA, and an abundance of fiber networks.

Referring to the recently opened facility of the National Security Administration in Bluffdale, Utah, between Salt Lake City and Provo, he said.

“If you want to know why NSA came to Salt Lake City, this fiber map is a critical reason,” said Corbato.

Between the two coasts, “the only places with a similar position are Chicago and Houston,” he said.

Corbato cited many reasons why the university believes so strongly in Gigabit Networks and advanced broadband. He said that broadband enables:

  • New modes of course delivery, including massively open online courses
  • Faculty competitiveness and retention
  • Staying connected with our alumni, including lifetime education
  • Delivering personalized medicine conveniently
  • Data gathering for field science
  • Supporting K-12 education in Utah
  • Accelerating the information technology economy in Utah

 

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.

Digital Inclusion

Lack of Public Broadband Pricing Information a Cause of Digital Divide, Say Advocates

Panelists argued that lack of equitable digital access is deadly and driven by lack of competition.

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September 24, 2021- Affordability, language and lack of competition are among the factors that continue to perpetuate the digital divide and related inequities, according to panelists at a Thursday event on race and broadband.

One of the panelists faulted the lack of public broadband pricing information as a root cause.

In poorer communities there’s “fewer ISPs. There’s less competition. There’s less investment in fiber,” said Herman Galperin, associate professor at the University of Southern California. “It is about income. It is about race, but what really matters is the combination of poverty and communities of color. That’s where we find the largest deficits of broadband infrastructure.”

While acknowledging that “there is an ongoing effort at the [Federal Communications Commission] to significantly improve the type of data and the granularity of the data that the ISPs will be required to report,” Galperin said that the lack of a push to make ISP pricing public will doom that effort to fail.

He also questioned why ISPs do not or are not required to report their maps of service coverage revealing areas of no or low service. “Affordability is perhaps the biggest factor in preventing low-income folks from connecting,” Galperin said.

“It’s plain bang for their buck,” said Traci Morris, executive director of the American Indian Policy Institute at Arizona State University, referring to broadband providers reluctance to serve rural and remote areas. “It costs more money to go to [tribal lands].”

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has only made that digital divide clearer and more deadly. “There was no access to information for telehealth,” said Morris. “No access to information on how the virus spread.”

Galperin also raised the impact of digital gaps in access upon homeless and low-income populations. As people come in and out of homelessness, they have trouble connecting to the internet at crucial times, because – for example – a library might be closed.

Low-income populations also have “systemic” digital access issues struggling at times with paying their bills having to shut their internet off for months at a time.

Another issue facing the digital divide is linguistic. Rebecca Kauma, economic and digital inclusion program manager for the city of Long Beach, California, said that residents often speak a language other than English. But ISPs may not offer interpretation services for them to be able to communicate in their language.

Funding, though not a quick fix-all, often brings about positive change in the right hands. Long Beach received more than $1 million from the U.S. CARES Act, passed in the wake of the early pandemic last year. “One of the programs that we designed was to administer free hotspots and computing devices to those that qualify,” she said.

Some “band-aid solutions” to “systemic problems” exist but aren’t receiving the attention or initiative they deserve, said Galperin. “What advocacy organizations are doing but we need a lot more effort is helping people sign up for existing low-cost offers.” The problem, he says, is that “ISPs are not particularly eager to promote” low-cost offers.

The event “Race and Digital Inequity: The Impact on Poor Communities of Color,” was hosted by the Michelson 20MM Foundation and its partners the California Community Foundation, Silicon Valley Community Foundation and Southern California Grantmakers.

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Broadband's Impact

USC, CETF Collaborate on Research for Broadband Affordability

Advisory panel includes leaders in broadband and a chief economist at the FCC.

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Hernan Galperin of USC's Annenberg School

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2021 – Researchers from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School and the California Emerging Technology Fund is partnering to recommend strategies for bringing affordable broadband to all Americans.

In a press release on Tuesday, the university’s school of communications and journalism and the CETF will be guided by an expert advisory panel, “whose members include highly respected leaders in government, academia, foundations and non-profit and consumer-focused organizations.”

Members of the advisory panel include a chief economist at the Federal Communications Commission, digital inclusion experts, broadband advisors to governors, professors and deans, and other public interest organizations.

“With the federal government and states committing billions to broadband in the near term, there is a unique window of opportunity to connect millions of low-income Americans to the infrastructure they need to thrive in the 21st century,” Hernan Galperin, a professor at the school, said in the release.

“However, we need to make sure public funds are used effectively, and that subsidies are distributed in an equitable and sustainable manner,” he added. “This research program will contribute to achieve these goals by providing evidence-based recommendations about the most cost-effective ways to make these historic investments in broadband work for all.”

The CETF and USC have collaborated before on surveys about broadband adoption. In a series of said surveys recently, the organizations found disparities along income levels, as lower-income families reported lower levels of technology adoption, despite improvement over the course of the pandemic.

The surveys also showed that access to connected devices was growing, but racial minorities are still disproportionately impacted by the digital divide.

The collaboration comes before the House is expected to vote on a massive infrastructure package that includes $65 billion for broadband. Observers and experts have noted the package’s vision for flexibility, but some are concerned about the details of how that money will be spent going forward.

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Broadband's Impact

Technology Policy Institute Introduces Data Index to Help Identify Connectivity-Deprived Areas

The Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple datasets to try to get a better understanding of well- and under-connected areas in the U.S.

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Scott Wallsten is president and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute

WASHINGTON, September 16, 2021 – The Technology Policy Institute introduced Thursday a broadband data index that it said could help policymakers study areas across the country with inadequate connectivity.

The TPI said the Broadband Connectivity Index uses multiple broadband datasets to compare overall connectivity “objectively and consistently across any geographic areas.” It said it will be adding it soon into its TPI Broadband Map.

The BCI uses a “machine learning principal components analysis” to take into account the share of households that can access fixed speeds the federal standard of 25 Megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload and 100/25 – which is calculated based on the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data with the American Community Survey – while also using download speed data from Ookla, Microsoft data for share of households with 25/3, and the share of households with a broadband subscription, which comes from the American Community Survey.

The BCI has a range of zero to 10, where zero is the worst connected and 10 is the best. It found that Falls Church, Virginia was the county with the highest score with the following characteristic: 99 percent of households have access to at least 100/25, 100 percent of households connect to Microsoft services at 25/3, the average fixed download speed is 243 Mbps in Ookla in the second quarter of this year, and 94 percent of households have a fixed internet connection.

Meanwhile, the worst-connected county is Echols County in Georgia. None of the population has access to a fixed connection of 25/3, which doesn’t include satellite connectivity, three percent connect to Microsoft’s servers at 25/3, the average download speed is 7 Mbps, and only 47 percent of households have an internet connection. It notes that service providers won $3.6 million out of the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to provide service in this county.

“Policymakers could use this index to identify areas that require a closer look. Perhaps any county below, say, the fifth percentile, for example, would be places to spend effort trying to understand,” the TPI said.

“We don’t claim that this index is the perfect indicator of connectivity, or even the best one we can create,” TPI added. “In some cases, it might magnify errors, particularly if multiple datasets include errors in the same area.

“We’re still fine-tuning it to reduce error to the extent possible and ensure the index truly captures useful information. Still, this preliminary exercise shows that it is possible to obtain new information on connectivity with existing datasets rather than relying only on future, extremely expensive data.”

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