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Broadband's Impact

Press Release: Rep. Paul Tonko Reintroduces House-Passed Bill to Increase Broadband Access in Underserved Areas

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Bipartisan ACCESS BROADBAND Act would improve coordination and community access to federal broadband resources

WASHINGTON, April 4, 2019 – Representatives Paul Tonko, D-N.Y., and Susan Brooks, R-Ind., announced the introduction of H.R. 1328: the ACCESS BROADBAND Act today, bipartisan legislation that would expand broadband access in underserved areas and create a simpler process for small businesses and local economic developers to access federal broadband resources.

“Reliable access to the internet is vital to our economy and way of life, whether for students doing homework, job seekers training for a new career, doctors reading a medical scan or entrepreneurs starting a small business,” said Tonko. “Despite its importance, federal resources supporting broadband expansion are poorly tracked with little coordination across agencies or departments that are doing this work, making it harder our local businesses and community leaders to access them. This bill is a step towards better broadband access for our communities and better government for all of us.”

“Hoosiers and Americans across the country who live in rural communities need better access to the internet so they can live and prosper in the 21st century economy,” said Brooks. “Currently, pursuing and managing federal broadband resources is overly burdensome for small businesses and communities as they search and manage multiple federal agencies’ application processes. The ACCESS BROADBAND Act will simplify this process for small businesses and local communities and will facilitate their interaction with government agencies as they apply for federal broadband assistance in order to bring internet connectivity to their communities.”

A companion bill was introduced in the Senate by Senators Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., Doug Jones, D-Ala., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., and Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn.

“Far too many communities across Nevada still lack access to high speed broadband,” said Cortez Masto. “The ACCESS BROADBAND Act enhances the federal government’s ability to support the expansion of wireless services and broadband infrastructure essential to helping underserved communities in Nevada, and across America get connected. I look forward to acting on this legislation to lay the groundwork for 5G networks that serve the needs of first responders, businesses and local school districts that need fast, reliable internet. Nevada is the Innovation State, and in order for us to continue being leaders, our communities must have access to high quality broadband that provides our communities with the 21st century infrastructure they need to thrive.”

The bill would also fund local training workshops to help small businesses and economic developers put federal broadband resources to work. The bill is cosponsored by 14 of Tonko’s colleagues in the House of Representatives including 7 Republicans. Similar legislation passed in the House in the 115th Congress but was never taken up in the Senate.

The ACCESS BROADBAND Act:

  • Stands for Advancing Critical Connectivity Expands Service, Small Businesses Resources, Opportunities, Access, and Data Based on Assessed Need and Demand
  • Establishes an Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
    • Directs this office to simplify access for small businesses and local communities, possibly including small business workshops and other support resources.
    • Streamlines process for small businesses & local governments to apply for federal broadband assistance; improves coordination across government and the private sector.

Source: Tonko Reintroduces House-Passed Bill to Increase Broadband Access in Underserved Areas : Congressman Paul Tonko

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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