The Department of Veterans Affairs is extending its 5G hospital innovation project, beyond the Palo Alto-based hospital where it began 9 months ago, reports NextGov.
In addition to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, the department has already begun work expanding the project to a VA facility in Lake Nona, Florida and the Puget Sound VA Medical Center in Seattle.
The department unveiled the project, named Project Convergence, in February as part of a public-private partnership with Verizon, Microsoft and medical software developer Medvis.
Through the collaboration, Verizon provides a 5G network connection. The 5G backbone supports Microsoft’s HoloLens information delivery platform and headset, which is used with imaging software from Medivis that officials can tap to transform complex health information into interactive 3D holograms, models and overlays.
To put into context what this means, when wearing the Microsoft HoloLens, “you can actually take a patient’s MRI or CT scan, and place it over the patient and actually see below the surface before you make any incision.” said Ryan Vega, executive director of the Veterans Heath Administration’s Innovation Ecosystem.
5G holds the promise of high speed, low latency internet connections, which officials believe willl revolutionize how the VA provides care. Vega added that Medivis’ solution is a Food and Drug Administration-cleared surgical navigation system.
Mayor de Blasio holds Verizon accountable to connect NYC households to broadband
Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a new initiative aimed at tackling the digital divide in New York City—a settlement ensuring that Verizon builds out its FiOS footprint to 500,000 additional households.
Under the settlement, Verizon is compelled to prioritize the least-connected districts and ensure connectivity for every NYC Housing Authority residential building. The city began proceedings against Verizon due to the telecom’s failure to meet the terms of its cable franchise agreement to build out its Fios network, inked under the Bloomberg administration.
Due to the corporation’s previous failure to connect many buildings, large portions of New York City neighborhoods are under an effective monopoly, with only one cable and broadband provider, which risks rendering consumers with lower speeds and higher costs. The settlement will make high-speed fiber broadband available to more New Yorkers.
“Internet access is an economic right in New York City, no matter your ZIP code,” said de Blasio. “Tech giants will not stand in our way to deliver high-quality broadband to New Yorkers. They must be a part of the solution.”
“COVID-19 has further exposed the inequalities in internet access while changing the way New Yorkers work, learn, and live. We will continue to hold any corporation that fails to deliver on its promise to New Yorkers accountable,” de Blasio maintained.
Free internet in Chattanooga, Tennessee will outlast the pandemic
Over the summer, the Hamilton County public school system, which encompasses the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, announced it would be providing high-speed internet access to families with students on free or reduced lunch plans through a program called EdConnect. The service is funded through the next ten years, meaning the free high-speed internet service helping keep students connected should well outlast the pandemic.
EdConnect is the outcome of a collaboration between Chattanooga’s municipal electric utility, a broadband service provider to many Chattanooga residents, and the Hamilton County school board. The service is an initiative to accommodate online learning for low-income students in the district. Hamilton County estimated that close to 17,500 households within the district didn’t have high-speed internet access, prior to the pandemic.
The school board worked with EPB Fiber Optics to fundraise $8 million from foundations and community partners for the high-speed program. Additional funds were offered by the city of Chattanooga, as well as from the state and from federal CARES Act funds.
Jill Levine, chief of innovation and choice at Hamilton County Schools, says there had been conversations about providing high-speed internet access to students prior to the pandemic, but the need had never been so urgent. The fact that many students did not have high-speed internet, or any internet access at all, became clear to the district when online learning began.
WISPA announces Mark Radabaugh as the association’s new Chairman of the Board
The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association announced today that its Board of Directors chose Mark Radabaugh as WISPA’s new Chairman of the Board. Radabaugh will replace former Chairman Nathan Stooke for a one-year term.
In 1997, Radabaugh began providing Toledo residents with broadband connectivity through his company, Amplex Internet. Since then, his extensive experience in unlicensed wireless broadband delivery, network design and all facets of residential and business broadband service delivery has enabled Radabaugh and his partners to grow Amplex to reach 9,500 customers, covering a 2,000 square mile service territory.
Radabaugh has been on the WISPA Board of Directors since 2013, and from 2015 has chaired WISPA’s FCC Committee, overseeing the association’s regulatory policy formation and agency filings. From 2017 to 2018, Radabaugh also served on the FCC’s Broadband Development Advisory Committee subgroup on Removing State and Local Barriers to Broadband.
When accepting the post, Radabaugh said he was grateful that his colleagues bestowed this honor on him. “We’re a tremendous industry that’s offering real solutions which make people’s lives better. I’m proud I can do my part to help tell this awesome success story,” said Radabaugh.
NTCA Smart Rural Communities, International Telecommunications Union Conference, Carr on TikTok
‘How do we make sure that you can keep that home grown talent?’
September 26, 2022 –Rural Broadband Association CEO Shirley Bloomfield on Monday announced a partnership with the National Rural Education Association to promote educational opportunities for rural children.
Speaking at the launch of the NTCA trade show in San Francisco on Monday, Bloomfield said that the program will help educate kids about the value of rural broadband services.
Bloomfield said it will help address a common lament in rural areas: “How do we make sure that you can keep that home grown talent?”
The pilot program with the rural education group will help promote the importance of broadband jobs in rural areas.
Telecom officials to be in Hungary for ITU election
Key telecom agency officials are expected this week to attend the International Telecommunications Union conference, where the election of the new head of the United Nation’s telecom regulator will be selected.
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration Alan Davidson, and deputy secretary of the Commerce Don Graves are expected in Bucharest, Romania, where American Doreen Bogdan-Martin is in the running against Russian challenger Rashid Ismailov.
Last week, President Joe Biden said he strongly supports the candidacy of Bogdan-Martin.
The ITU develops international connectivity standards in communications networks and improving access to information and communication technologies for underserved communities worldwide.
The conference is being held from September 25 – 29.
The FCC expressed concerns over TikTok security and big tech contributions
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said in a statement Monday that he spoke with European Union officials in Brussels about the need for Big Tech to contribute to the development of broadband networks and about the alleged security risks of the Chinese video-sharing app TikTok.
Carr has previously said that big technology companies should contribute to the Universal Service Fund, a roughly $10-billion pot of money that goes to support basic telecommunications builds across the nation. Money for the fund comes from voice service providers, but critics have said that the fund’s base of contributors needs to be broadened for its sustainability.
Carr also reiterated his position that TikTok poses a security and privacy threat to Americans.
“TikTok functions as a sophisticated surveillance tool that harvests extensive amounts of personal and sensitive data,” he said in the statement. “And recent reporting indicates that there is no check on this sensitive data being accessed from inside China.”
The security of TikTok has been an ongoing issue, with American Senators saying that TikTok may be collecting biometric data and storing it in an unknown database.
Kenosha Gets Fiber, Judiciary Committee Advances Journalism Bill, Rosenworcel Touts Women in Tech
SiFi Networks will construct an all-fiber network for 40,000 households in the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin.
September 23, 2022 – The city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, and SiFi Networks on Thursday announced the start of construction of an all-fiber network that is advertised to bring high-speed broadband to all 40,000 households, businesses, and other locations in the city.
The $100-million, privately funded project is scheduled to be completed in approximately three years and will provide speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second (Gbps), SiFi Networks said. The project has been announced to be open access: Many service providers will simultaneously lease sections of the network. SiFi says this model will enhance competition and bring “the fastest speeds at the most competitive prices to the consumer.”
“Kenosha is a special city with wonderful residents who are ready for modern-day connectivity,” said Marcus Bowman, community relations manager at SiFi Networks. “SiFi Networks is delighted to make the long-term investment in Kenosha because we see how fiber networks transform communities into hubs of innovation, remote work, better healthcare, and smart city services.”
“Kenosha residents and businesses will see a great benefit from the Kenosha FiberCity project, ensuring that affordable, high-speed internet service is available throughout the entire city,” Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian said.
Cruz and Klobuchar find agreement on Journalism bill
A bipartisan bill that would alter existing antitrust law to create a safe harbor for news outlets engaged in collective bargaining with big-tech platforms was approved Thursday by the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Supporters of the Journalism Competition and Preservation Act say it would give news outlets the influence necessary to obtain fair compensation for their work from large platforms such as Facebook and Google.
The bill was scheduled to advance out of the Judiciary Committee earlier this month. Its passage was delayed by sponsor Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., after the committee adopted an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, that would limit platforms’ ability to moderate content.
Cruz’s amendment would have outright removed the antitrust exemption if outlet–platform negotiations included content-moderation policies, which Klobuchar called the amendment a “get out of jail free card” for platforms. Instead, the version of the bill advanced Thursday states that bargaining shall be conducted “solely to reach an agreement regarding the pricing, terms and conditions.”
“This is a major win for free speech and it strikes a blow against the virtual monopoly that Big Tech has to limit the information that Americans see online,” said Cruz’s official statement on Thursday. “The bottom line is Big Tech hated this bill from the start and now they hate it even more.”
Rosenworcel speaks to Grace Hopper Celebration
Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel touted the importance of women in technology at the Grace Hopper Celebration networking event on Thursday.
“The Grace Hopper Celebration is known for being the world’s premier networking event for women in technology,” Rosenworcel said. “It is great to see it and just be here. Because in my two decades of working on technology policy, I have not been in a lot of rooms like this. In fact, I have lost count of the times that I have been the only woman in the room.”
The FCC’s chairwoman called on colleagues to “pull up a chair” for other women in tech as well as struggling community members. Speaking of her time as a commissioner at the FCC, Rosenworcel said she was one of only a few officials working to close the “homework gap” before the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
She also committed to advance “issues that affect women in technology,” promising to promote telehealth solutions for maternity care, extend basic phone services to victims of domestic abuse, and scrutinize the privacy standards of mobile providers to ensure the privacy of women’s medical history.
ReConnect Funding, More Emergency Connectivity Fund Money, 5G Training Grant in South Africa
The Agriculture Department announced $502M will go to service providers in 20 states.
September 22, 2022 – The Agriculture Department announced Thursday it is committing from the ReConnect program $502 million to providers in 20 states for fiber-to-the-premises builds.
Recipients include rural and tribal lands in Alabama, Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming.
The largest recipients include Egyptian Telephone Cooperative Association (IL), which will receive a loan of $25,282,255; Sault Ste Marie Tribe of Chippewa (MI), which is receiving a grant of $24,944,355; Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation (NC) will receive $24,664,687; and Big Bend Telephone Company Inc. (TX) will get $24,018,756.
“High-speed internet will improve the rural economy. It will help rural businesses grow and get access to new markets. It will help rural residents get access to more and better health care and educational opportunities. USDA knows rural America is America’s backbone, and prosperity here means prosperity for all,” said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack.
For ReConnect program funding, an applicant would serve an area where high-speed internet service speeds are lower than 100 Megabits per second download and 20 Mbps upload. The applicant must also commit to building facilities capable of providing access to symmetrical high-speed internet at speeds of 100 Mbps.
FCC commits additional funding from Emergency Connectivity Fund
The Federal Communications Commission announced Wednesday it is committing another $55-million in a third-round of funding from the Emergency Connectivity Fund program, which provides subsidized connectivity to keep students away from school connected.
“With the school year in full swing, kids need to be able to connect with teachers and homework assignments when they are away from school grounds,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a press release. “Our latest funding commitments will provide this support, and continue our ongoing progress to close the Homework Gap.”
The commission has so-far committed over $5.6 billion of the $7.1-billion program to 10,000 schools, 900 libraries, and 100 consortia, and provided nearly 12 million connected devices and over seven million broadband connections, the release said.
Wireless Infrastructure Association gets Commerce grant for 5G training in South Africa
The Wireless Infrastructure Association was awarded a grant by the Commerce Department Wednesday to put toward workforce training for the development of 5G infrastructure in South Africa.
“Through our Telecommunications Education Center, WIA has become a global leader in broadband and 5G training, and we’re honored by the opportunity to support this project to bring the benefits of efficient 5G rollout to South Africa and strengthen America’s leadership as an exporter of 5G technology,” the WIA said in a press release Wednesday.
The Commerce Department’s Market Development Cooperator program is intended to remove trade barriers and help American firms export. It includes a proposal called the Roadmap to 5G Success project to accelerate 5G deployment in South Africa and help drive business for American companies.
Wednesday’s announcement was part of a larger committed by the department, which awarded five other grantees for a total investment of $1.7 million. The grantees will need to invest $3.4 million of their own resources “and collaborate with International Trade Administration staff around the world to remove trade barriers and promote U.S. exports in their industries.”
“We have seen time and again that working with non-profit industry groups is key to reaching markets in different parts of the globe and generating exports that will ultimately serve our goal of strengthening the competitiveness of U.S. industry. We look forward to adding the six new projects to our successful MDCP program, which has a strong history of creating multiplier effects and producing a significant return on investment for U.S. business.” Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a department release.
In March of this year, the Wireless Infrastructure Association issued telecommunications tower technician programs at Ohio State University. WIA acts as an in-house expert to aid in workforce education and implementation.
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