January 13, 2015
In 2010, after a competitive procurement, NTIA awarded a contract to research firm ASR Analytics, LLC to conduct an independent analysis of the social and economic impacts of the $4 billion in Recovery Act grants awarded under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). ASR performed an extensive analysis of the quarterly and annual reports from more than 200 grantees over a four-year period, and conducted 27 detailed case studies of individual BTOP projects. The case studies were based on site visits that included interviews, observations and data collection. The products of the study include a Final Report, two Interim Reports, the case study documents and a Short Term Economic impacts Report. The study methodology and datasets are also publicly available. For more information, email email@example.com.
I just ran across this much-touted report from ASR analytics. Does anyone have any feedback about it?
Editor’s Note – Here is the press release that NTIA put out about the core findings of the study:
Research Study Shows NTIA Broadband Grants Provided Billions in Economic Benefits
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new independent research study  today showing that its broadband grants program resulted in billions of dollars in economic benefits to the communities served, including increased economic output and higher levels of employment.
The four-year study, prepared by the research firm ASR Analytics, examined the social and economic impacts of the $4 billion in Recovery Act grants awarded by NTIA to expand broadband access and adoption across the country through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program  (BTOP). In communities where grantees built new broadband infrastructure, broadband availability grew by an estimated 2 percent more than in communities not served by a broadband grantee. That growth could be expected to translate into increased economic output of as much as $21 billion annually, the report concluded.
We’ve seen firsthand the transforming economic and societal impact that broadband has on communities across the country,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “The study released today captures only an early picture of the economic impact of our broadband grants. As more and more providers take advantage of Recovery Act-funded networks, we fully anticipate that the impact will be even greater.”
NTIA is at the forefront of federal efforts to ensure that all Americans share in the promise and potential of the digital economy. NTIA today also unveiled its Broadband USA  initiative aimed at finding new ways to assist communities seeking to build their broadband capacity to advance economic development.
NTIA contracted with ASR Analytics to provide an independent assessment  of the social and economic impacts of BTOP. ASR Analytics’ final report summarizes and synthesizes the findings of 42 separate case study reports, two interim reports, and a short-term economic impacts report. In conducting its review, ASR conducted 42 site visits with 27 different BTOP grantees between July 2011 and November 2013.
Key findings of ASR’s final report include:
- On average, in only two years, BTOP grant communities experienced an estimated 2 percent greater growth in broadband availability than non-grant communities, which is estimated to generate increased annual economic activity of between $5.17 billion and $21 billion.
- The additional broadband infrastructure provided by BTOP could be expected to create more than 22,000 long-term jobs and generate more than $1 billion in additional household income each year.
- Community anchor institutions, like schools and libraries, served by BTOP infrastructure grantees in the sample experienced significantly increased speeds and lower costs. As an example, the median price paid by libraries in the sample was $233 megabits-per-second (mbps)/month before BTOP, at a median speed of 3 mbps. As a result of the grant, the median price dropped to $15 mbps/month and median speed increased to 20 mbps.
Under the BTOP program, NTIA awarded 233 grants benefitting every state, as well as five territories and the District of Columbia, to build network infrastructure, establish public computer centers, and develop digital literacy training to expand broadband adoption.
To date, BTOP grantees have built or upgraded more than 113,000 miles of fiber and connected nearly 25,000 community anchor institutions. BTOP grantees also have established or upgraded 3,000 public computer centers, delivered more than four million training hours and helped roughly 735,000 households sign up for broadband.
NTIA, part of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the Executive Branch agency that advises the President on telecommunications and information policy issues. NTIA’s programs and policy making focus largely on expanding broadband Internet access and adoption in America, expanding the use of spectrum by all users, and ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for continued innovation and economic growth.
Dianne Crocker: Recession Fears Have Real Estate Market Forecasters Hitting the Reset Button
Growing fears of recession trigger pullback on previous rosy forecasts.
The lyrics to “Same As It Ever Was” by the Talking Heads certainly don’t apply to how 2022 is playing out in the commercial real estate market. Two quarters of negative economic growth has put a damper on market sentiment and triggered fears that the U.S. economy is heading for a recession. By midyear, market analysts were taking a good, hard look at their rosy forecasts from the start of the New Year and redrawing the lines.
Once upon a time…
At the start of 2022, forecasters were bullishly predicting that commercial real estate investment and lending levels would be nearly as good as 2021. This was significant, considering that 2021 set new records for deal-making and lending volume as the debt and equity capital amassed during the pandemic while looking for a home in U.S. commercial real estate.
What a difference a few quarters have made. Virtually, all the predictions that started the New Year were obsolete by mid-summer. The abrupt shift in market conditions is palpable and surprised just about everyone. Now, markets are reaching an inflection point that is in sharp contrast with the strong rebound of last year.
The two I’s: Inflation and interest rates
At the core of the recent upset in market sentiment is the persistence of high inflation, which seems to be ignoring all attempts by the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates and bring prices down. Higher inflation is having a ripple effect throughout the economy, pushing up the costs of construction materials, energy, and consumer goods. Among the notable economic indicators showing stress at mid-year was the GDP, which fell for the second consecutive quarter, and the Consumer Price Index, which jumped 9.1% year-over-year in June – the highest increase in about four decades.
In July, the CPI fell to 8.5%, an encouraging sign that inflation was beginning to stabilize. By the latest August report from LightBox, however, hopes were dashed when the CPI showed little improvement, holding firm at a still high of 8.3%.
The market is responding to a higher cost of capital as lenders tap the brakes. As the cost of capital rises with each interest rate hike and concerns of a recession intensify, many large U.S. financial institutions are pulling back on their loan originations for the rest of 2022 and into 2023. This change in tenor is a significant shift, given that 2021 was a record-breaking year for commercial real estate lending. Many lenders have already shifted to a more defensive underwriting position as they look to mitigate risks.
The Mortgage Bankers Association, which had previously predicted that lending levels in 2022 would break the $1 trillion mark for the first time revised their forecast downward in mid-July. By year-end, the MBA now expects volume to be a significant 18% below 2021 levels—and one-third lower than the bullish forecast made in February. Now, investment activity is cooling as higher borrowing costs drive some buyers from the market.
In the investment world, transactions were down by 29% at midyear due to a thinning buyer pool as higher rates impact access to debt capital. Market volatility is causing investors, lenders, and owners to rethink strategies, reconsider assumptions, and prepare for possible disruption.
Looking ahead to year-end and 2023
The rapid and diverse shifts in the market make for an uncertain forecast and certainly a more cautious investment environment. The battle between inflation and interest rates will continue over the near term. As LightBox’s investor, lender, valuation, and environmental due diligence clients move toward the 4th quarter—typically the busiest quarter of the year–unprecedented volatility is driving them to recalibrate and reforecast given recent market developments.
Continued softness in transaction volume is likely to continue as rates and valuations establish a new equilibrium. If property prices begin to level out, there will be more pressure on buyers to consider how to improve a property to get their return on investment. The next chapter of the commercial real estate market will be defined by how long inflation sticks around, how high interest rates go, and whether the economy slips into a recession (and how deeply). The greatest areas of opportunity will be found in asset classes like office and retail that are evolving away from traditional uses and morphing to meet the needs of today’s market. Until barometers stabilize, it’s important to rethink assumptions, watch developments, and recalibrate as necessary.
Dianne Crocker is the Principal Analyst for LightBox, delivering strategic analytics, best practices in risk management, market intelligence reports, educational seminars, and customized research for stakeholders in commercial real estate deals. She is a highly respected expert on commercial real estate market trends. This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.
Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to firstname.lastname@example.org. The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.
White House Presses Outreach Initiatives for Affordable Connectivity Program
White House officials urged schools and other local institutions to engage in text-message and social media campaigns for the ACP.
WASHINGTON, September 15, 2022 – The White House on Monday urged schools and other local institutions to engage in text-message and social media campaigns, PSAs, and other community-outreach initiatives to promote enrollment in the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program among of families with school-age children.
The Affordable Connectivity Program subsidizes internet service bill for low-income households. Monthly discounts of up to $30 are available for non-tribal enrollees, $75 for applicants on qualifying tribal lands. In addition, the ACP offers enrollees a one-time discount $100 on qualifying device purchases.
To boost ACP enrollment, speakers encouraged schools to reach out directly to families. Bharat Ramanurti, deputy director of the National Economic Council, said text-message campaigns drive up enrollment in government programs. A Massachusetts text-message campaign doubled ACP enrollment rates in subsequent days, said Ramanurti.
Also highlighted was the administration’s “ACP Consumer Outreach Kit,” which provides partners with resources, including fliers, posters, audio PSAs, social-media templates.
In fact, many of these tactics have proved effective in increasing ACP enrollment among telehealth patients. In addition, Microsoft and Communications Workers of America recently announced a circuit of ACP sign-up drives in that will tour several states including Michigan, New York, and North Carolina.
Political considerations as November nears…
As students go back to school and midterm elections loom, new ACP sign-ups could benefit the enrollees as well as the Democrats’ political chances.
Public officials and private experts alike recognize the value of community involvement in extending broadband connectivity and digital literacy nationwide. Marshaling community institutions – like schools – to maximize broadband access could help Biden and other Democrats overcome inflation-driven electoral headwinds in the November midterms. The White House obtained commitments from 20 providers to offer high-speed internet plans for $30 per month or less to ACP-eligible households – this means no out-of-pocket costs for recipients of ACP discounts. Free broadband coverage could bring the administration – and all Democrat candidates, by extension – back into the good graces of low-income families.
Federal Government Must Collect More Granular Data on Minorities to Aid in Initiatives
Discussion on the “data gap” comes as the nation tries to connect the unserved and underserved.
WASHINGTON, August 31, 2022 – In order to serve the needs of all Americans, the federal government must gather and act on more granular data on underrepresented minority groups that have been historically overlooked in the data-gathering process, said Denice Ross, the White House’s chief data scientist.
Ross argued at an online event hosted by the Center for Data Innovation on Tuesday that many minority groups – including African Americans, Native Americans, the disabled, and the LGBT community – are disadvantaged by the “data divide,” a term which refers to disparities in the amount and quality of available data on various groups.
Ross was citing a report issued earlier this year by the Equitable Data Working Group, a task force created by President Joe Biden earlier this year, which said policymakers are often unable to perceive or ameliorate problems facing minority communities if data on those communities are unavailable or insufficiently disaggregated. Disaggregated data, the report says, is “data that can be broken down and analyzed by race, ethnicity, gender, disability, income, veteran status, age, or other key demographic variables.”
The report recommends a federal data collection strategy that safeguards privacy and facilitates analysis of “the interconnectedness of identities and experiences,” or how individuals’ various minority-group identities compound the societal disadvantages they face. The report also advocates the creation of “incentives and pathways” promoting minority representation in the data collection process.
The recommendations come as the broadband industry and federal agencies try to improve knowledge of where there are unserved and underserved areas for broadband connectivity and to take action to improve digital literacy. The Illinois Broadband Lab and other state broadband offices, for example, implement a community-up approach to data gathering. Direct community involvement provides data insights that help states deliver coverage to in-need communities, officials say.
In the panel discussion that followed Ross’s opening remarks, experts and academics agreed that community outreach is a necessary step in closing the data divide. Dominique Harrison, director of bank Citi Ventures’ Racial Equity Design and Data Initiative, said that some in the African American community view data collection with skepticism.
Christopher Wood, executive director of LGBT Tech, argued that the passage of a federal privacy standard is a critical step toward establishing trust in government data collection. The most recent attempt to pass a national privacy regime, the American Data Privacy and Protection Act, was approved by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce last month.
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