NTIA’s Year in Review and 2014 Forecast

December 20, 2013 by Angela Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information
Angela Simpson, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information

As 2013 winds to a close, I’d like to take a look back at all that NTIA has accomplished this year and forecast our plans for 2014.

Much of our work in 2013 focused on supporting the innovation economy of the future – one that produces new and better jobs and positions the United States to remain competitive in the 21st Century.  To do this, we work to promote broadband access and adoption, advocate a multistakeholder approach to Internet policy making, and push to make more spectrum available for wireless technologies. We made great progress this year, but have more work to do in 2014 and beyond.

Broadband

NTIA played a leading role in promoting the Administration’s broadband agenda through our broadband grant programs. This past year we’ve seen many of the broadband projects make great strides in reaching their goals. Through 2013, our 230 broadband projects have collectively:

  • deployed or upgraded more than 110,000 miles of broadband infrastructure;
  • connected more than 20,000 community anchor institutions to high-speed broadband Internet service;
  • generated approximately 625,000 new broadband Internet subscribers; and
  • installed more than 46,000 workstations in public computer centers.

While our State Broadband Initiative projects will continue through the end of 2014, most of our broadband infrastructure and adoption projects will be closed or winding down over the next year. Given this, we’ll be focusing on leveraging the lessons and expertise gained from our broadband grants into other areas, including the President’s ConnectED initiative aimed at ensuring that 99 percent of the nation’s students have access within five years to next-generation broadband. Our broadband grant program has connected approximately 10 percent of U.S. schools and could provide important inputs on successfully approaching the connectivity piece of the ConnectED equation.

Spectrum

Another central focus for NTIA was making more spectrum available to meet both the government and private sectors’ needs for wireless technologies. We’ve worked hard to balance consumer demand with protecting mission critical federal uses of spectrum.

Working with the Federal Communications Commission, other federal agencies, and industry, NTIA made significant progress toward President Obama's goal of repurposing 500 megahertz of spectrum to wireless broadband use by 2020. Our Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee (CSMAC) did ground-breaking work this year to explore relocation approaches and spectrum sharing arrangements between federal agencies and industry. 

As part of our efforts to advance not only spectrum sharing but to address other communications challenges, NTIA and our sister agency, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), announced plans to establish a national Center for Advanced Communications in Boulder, Colorado to leverage the critical mass of NIST and NTIA research and engineering capabilities in collaboration. In 2014, NTIA will build on 2013's progress, bolstered by the President’s direction last summer for federal agencies to accelerate shared access to spectrum.

FirstNet

Another key focus this year was the development of a nationwide wireless broadband network dedicated to public safety. FirstNet, charged with establishing this network, made important progress this year by filling out its staff and reaching out to public safety officials at the local and state level. In 2014, FirstNet will be focused on prioritizing issues related to its business foundation, partnerships, statutory mandates, BTOP public safety projects, mobile network solutions, and devices.

Internet

NTIA will continue to focus on preserving the dynamism and openness of the Internet, enhancing the free flow of information, and strengthening our Internet economy.  This involves working hard globally to promote the multistakeholder model for solving tough policy issues surrounding the Internet.  Whether it be managing the Internet domain name system or developing codes of conduct for protecting consumers’ privacy, we believe an open and inclusive process that resolves issues through consensus is the right approach.

Domestically, we continued to implement the Administration’s privacy blueprint, working with privacy advocates, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to apply the President’s Privacy Bill of Rights to different business contexts through the development of voluntary codes of conduct. We achieved an important milestone in July when stakeholders agreed to begin testing and implementing a privacy code of conduct related to mobile applications transparency. Looking ahead, NTIA will convene stakeholders in February to begin discussions on a privacy code of conduct focused on commercial uses of facial recognition technology.

We look forward to hearing from a wide range of stakeholders on this topic and on all our work as we continue to make progress on these important issues.