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Broadband's Impact

FCC Announces Awards for Innovations in Accessibility Communications

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ARLINGTON, Virginia, June 9, 2014 – Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler presented the third annual awards for advances in accessibility to innovators of communications technology for disabled people. The awards were presented at the M-Enabling Summit at the Renaissance Arlington Capitol View Hotel here.

The awards ceremony and initiative seeks to make possible exchange among “industry, assistive technology companies, app developers, government representatives and consumers to share best practices and solutions for accessible communications technologies,” according to the agency.

“The potential of broadband-enabled technology to improve the lives of Americans living with disabilities is almost limitless – but only if that technology is accessible,” Wheeler said in a statement.  “I’m glad that these awards can help spark the development of new and creative technologies that furthers the important goal of making communications accessible for all Americans.”

The awards were presented in seven categories, with the winners each listed below:

Advanced Communication Services (ACS)

Braille Plus 18

Braille Plus 18, developed by the American Printing House for the Blind, is a portable tablet/communication device with an 18-cell Braille display that is the world’s first Android device designed specifically for individuals who are blind or visually impaired.

Closed Captions

Adobe Primetime

Adobe Primetime, developed by Adobe Systems, is a set of tools for online video distribution, playback, and analysis that are used to support the provision of closed captions on multiple online platforms and devices, including TVs, PCs, set top boxes, tablets, phones and other video devices and players.

Employment Opportunities

Texas Multi-Agency Office 2010 Training Collaboration

“Creating Accessible Microsoft Office 2010 Documents,” developed by the Texas Multi-Agency Office 2010 Training Collaboration, and hosted by the Texas Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities, is a free, Web-based set of accessible training modules offering step-by-step instructions for creating captioned videos, MP-3 voice recordings and transcripts in Word and PDF formats. The collaborative effort takes advantage of social media and low-cost technology to teach accessible design of popular electronic document formats in the workplace.

Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities

Game Accessibility Guidelines

Game Accessibility Guidelines is a straightforward developer-friendly set of free guidelines to foster access by people with disabilities across the full spectrum of gaming products and ensure the quality-of-life benefits of interactive entertainment are open to as wide a range of people as possible. The guidelines have a strong emphasis on intellectual and learning disabilities, including techniques for enhancing in-game communication ranging from dyslexia-friendly typography to symbol based chat and visual map-based messaging.

Mobile Web Browsers

Capti Narrator

Capti Narrator, developed by Charmtech Labs LLC, simplifies mobile Web browsing and makes iOS devices more accessible by enabling people with disabilities to listen to news, e-books and other documents anywhere and at any time.

Social Media

EasyChirp

Easy Chirp, developed by Dennis Lembree, is a free Web app that facilitates communicating via Twitter and is optimized for users with disabilities. Optimization examples include: proper coding for screen reader use by people who are blind, high contrast; large text and zoom support for people with low vision; and other aspects to better enable access by people with motor and cognitive disabilities. Most recently, Easy Chirp added a feature which provides a method to tweet an image with alternative text.

Video Description

YouDescribe and the Descriptive Video Exchange (DVX)

YouDescribe, developed by the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute, is a website and application protocol interface (API) for creating and playing crowd-sourced, synchronized video descriptions of YouTube videos.

Adobe Primetime

Adobe Primetime, developed by Adobe Systems, is a set of tools for online video distribution, playback, and analysis that are used to support the provision of closed captions on multiple online platforms and devices, including TVs, PCs, set top boxes, tablets, phones and other video devices and players.

 

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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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Broadband's Impact

Experts Say Partnerships Key for Downtown City Connectivity

‘Simple and regular community engagement is needed.’

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NASHVILLE, June 22, 2022 – While service providers plan on using fiber to revitalize downtown areas, experts say community engagement with local businesses is key to facilitate the construction process.

“Simple and regular community engagement is needed,” Nathan Hoople, senior project manager at engineering consulting firm Ditesco, said at the Fiber Connect conference on June 13.

Ryan Smith, engineering manager of the City of Loveland and Pulse Broadband,  said there is a “cry for downtown city coverage.” Panelists agreed that regular community involvement in the broadband infrastructure process is key to getting more broadband access in downtown areas.

Hoople stated that because fiber infrastructure construction can be costly, partnerships are key to establish trust and having an efficient installation process for downtown project success. This can have a “tremendous impact on long term investment.”

Effective communication with local leaders and workers allows for a more efficient installation process, said Hoople. “Know exactly how you can serve every building on the block, so you don’t have to rip up the sidewalk in three months.”

Darren Archibald from software and cloud company Calix agreed with the service provider and community partner approach to better downtown access. He added that with this, this “build[s] brand credibility and reliability” making the community aware of the service and why it is beneficial.

Smith emphasized that a specific relationship with individuals in public works is critical for downtown construction. It “would help with permitting, inspections, final close outs and to coordinate with other street projects,” said Smith. “Those relationships go a long way.”

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