NTIA Blog

Working to Ensure Public Safety Has Cutting-Edge, Reliable Communications

July 25, 2014 by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications
Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications

First responders know the deadly consequences of not having a communications network that is reliable and interoperable, a problem highlighted during the September 2001 terrorist attacks and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.  

The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is working to ensure our nation’s first responders have access to the most advanced communications when responding to an emergency or natural disaster.

NTIA is working closely with the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet), an independent authority within the agency, as it works towards creating a nationwide public safety broadband network. In support of that effort, NTIA also is working to ensure states are prepared to take full advantage of this network once it is deployed.

Police typing on mobile device

NTIA awarded $116 million in grants to 54 states and territories to help plan for the broadband network that FirstNet will deploy. The State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) is helping states prepare for the development and implementation of a more resilient broadband network, which will enable first responders to communicate efficiently and, consequently, save lives.

Topics: 

New Technical Reports Evaluate Spectrum Sharing in 3.5 GHz Band

July 18, 2014 by NTIA

To support the Administration’s commitment to making available an additional 500 MHz of spectrum for commercial use by 2020, NTIA continues to perform and publish technical studies in bands proposed for sharing. In collaboration with a wireless technology provider, earlier this year NTIA performed ground-breaking interference-effects testing between radar signals and broadband digital communication receivers in the 3550–3650 MHz band. NTIA released two reports today that describe these measurements and analyses.

NTIA Technical Report TR-14-506, co-authored by Geoffrey A. Sanders, John E. Carroll, and Frank H. Sanders of NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences in Boulder, Colorado, and Robert L. Sole of NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management, presents the results of measurements and analyses of the effects of radar interference on prototype LTE equipment. NTIA Technical Report TR-14-507, co-authored by Frank H. Sanders, John E. Carroll, Geoffrey A. Sanders, Robert J. Achatz, and Robert L. Sole of NTIA and Lawrence S. Cohen of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory, presents the results of measurements and analyses of the effects of LTE interference on a type of radar receiver that might eventually share spectrum with such systems.

Faster Broadband, Reaching More

July 17, 2014 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Access to high-speed Internet has become a necessity for communities and businesses, and the latest data from the National Broadband Map shows that broadband continues to be available to more Americans than ever.

Broadband drives economic growth and innovation – including advances in health care, education, and public safety. Since its launch in 2011, the National Broadband Map has been helping businesses and consumers access broadband by detailing where and what types of high-speed Internet services are available in their communities.

Considering wireline and wireless technologies together, the slowest broadband speeds are nearly ubiquitously available, and access to very fast broadband (over 100 Mbps) has now reached two-thirds of Americans. The data, as of December 31, 2013, shows that 99 percent of Americans have access to wired and/or wireless broadband at advertised speeds of 6 Mbps downstream and 1.5 Mbps up, though this number drops to 89 percent when considering wireline broadband alone.

After a huge jump between December 2010 and December 2011, the data continues to show a steady increase – primarily attributable to an upgrade in existing cable systems – in the number of communities and businesses that now can access broadband with speeds of at least 100 Mbps. Check out the data yourself below and on the National Broadband Map website, where you can analyze data, look at differences in rural and urban availability and see the differences by technology and speed.  All historical data is also available on NTIA’s website or via API.

Topics: 

NTIA and the FCC’s Office of Engineering and Technology Jointly Seeking Input on “Model City” to Explore Spectrum Sharing

July 11, 2014 by NTIA

Building on Administration efforts to make more spectrum available for commercial mobile broadband, NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission’s Office of Engineering and Technology (OET) today issued a Joint Public Notice seeking comment on the possibility of establishing a “Model City” for demonstrating and evaluating advanced spectrum sharing technologies.

America’s future competitiveness, national security, and global technology leadership depend on access to radio spectrum – the lifeblood of smartphones, tablets, and critical federal government systems. Because spectrum is a finite resource, federal agencies and commercial entities together must explore new spectrum-sharing opportunities to meet the exploding demand.

The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) in 2012 issued a groundbreaking report that made recommendations on how to realize the full potential of government-held spectrum by facilitating spectrum sharing. The report concluded that clearing and reallocating federal spectrum is no longer a sustainable basis for spectrum policy due to the high cost, lengthy time to implement, and disruption to the federal mission. To bridge the gap from today’s spectrum use model to a new regime, the PCAST report said that real-world testing of dynamic sharing principles and technologies is necessary. Therefore, one of the PCAST’s recommendations was to create an urban test city environment. Through the Joint Public Notice, NTIA and OET seek to promote this Model City concept.

Spotlight on NTIA: Isha Carry, Program Analyst, Office of Policy Coordination and Management

June 27, 2014 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Isha Carry photoIsha Carry has spent her entire career at the Commerce Department, but one could hardly accuse her of being complacent. Carry began working at Commerce at age 16 in the U.S. Travel and Tourism Administration. In her 22 years with the department, she has held several positions with many different responsibilities. Her experience ranges from serving as program assistant at the International Trade Administration (ITA) to IT specialist in the Office of the Secretary.

Carry currently works in NTIA’s Office of Policy Coordination and Management (OPCM).  She uses her varied skills and experience to fill several roles for OPCM, and is often considered the “go-to” person to get things done. Her day could range from dealing with property management and FirstNet’s move to new workspace to production of NTIA’s Congressional budget submission. Carry is looking forward to expanding her role in the development and implementation of NTIA’s budget in the upcoming fiscal year.

 “You have to continue to grow,” Carry says on why she has changed jobs so many times. She added that she has always strived to continue to learn and acquire new skills. Carry also notes that she has developed great friendships inside and outside the department. She began her career with the federal government with the help of the “Stay in School” work study program she participated in through her high school.

Working with Our Global Partners to Advance an Open Internet

June 20, 2014 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Three years ago this month, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) endorsed a set of principles that encouraged its members to implement policies that call for a common approach to Internet policymaking that center on ensuring the openness of the Internet. The Internet Policymaking Principles (IPPs) include many of the same principles the United States has long advocated in its approach to Internet policymaking, standards and governance including calls to ensure the openness of the Internet, protect and promote the free flow of information on the Internet, and use of the multistakeholder approach to tackle Internet policy challenges.

In celebration of the three-year anniversary of the IPPs, today I met in Paris with a number of foreign government representatives and other stakeholders to discuss ways we can continue to advance the goals outlined in the OECD’s IPPs and the joint challenges we face. These principles, which were inspired by Internet principles adopted by Brazil, were developed in 2011 as OECD members sought ways to spur economic growth as well as respond to threats to online freedom worldwide and advance a more inclusive approach to Internet policy development.

The Internet has been an engine for global economic growth, innovation and societal change for more than two decades. It has torn down walls between countries in an unprecedented way and is an important tool for the free exchange of ideas.

NTIA Releases Interim Progress Report on Administration’s Plan to Free Up More Spectrum

June 05, 2014 by NTIA

NTIA today released the Fourth Interim Progress Report on the Obama Administration’s initiative to identify and make available 500 megahertz of federal and non-federal spectrum for commercial wireless broadband use by 2020. This report also includes a plan for federal agencies to conduct quantitative assessments of their actual spectrum usage in 960 megahertz of additional spectrum, as directed in President Obama’s June 2013 Memorandum.

America’s future competitiveness and global technology leadership depend on access to radio spectrum – the lifeblood of smartphones, tablets, and other data-hungry wireless devices.  That is why President Obama’s June 2010 Memorandum set a bold goal of nearly doubling the amount of spectrum available for commercial use by the end of this decade. Between October 2010 and September 2013, NTIA formally recommended or otherwise identified for potential reallocation up to 405 megahertz of spectrum.

Working to Ensure Americans Remain Connected When Disaster Strikes

May 30, 2014 by Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications
Stephen Fletcher, Associate Administrator, Office of Public Safety Communications

With the start of summer comes the beginning of the hurricane season along much of the U.S. coast.  And with hurricanes comes the increased possibility that communications could be disrupted.

Less than two years ago, Hurricane Sandy left a trail of death and destruction including disrupted communications for millions of people and thousands of businesses along the East Coast. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has reported that about a quarter of cell sites across 10 states and the District of Columbia were knocked out of service during the peak of the storm.

As the Executive Branch agency primarily responsible for advising the President on telecommunications and information issues, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has been working with other federal agencies to help Americans remain connected in the wake of natural disasters or other emergencies.

In its report released last August, the White House’s Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force called on NTIA and the U.S. Department of Energy to work with the FCC to develop recommendations that help facilitate improved resiliency for cell phone towers, data centers and other critical communications infrastructure in the event of a power disruption following a disaster. NTIA and the Energy Department expect to complete the recommendations later this year.   

Topics: 

Building on the Community Broadband Momentum

May 29, 2014 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling
Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Today NTIA is hosting the first of several workshops focused on community broadband as we explore ways to build on the momentum of our successful broadband grant programs and look at what comes next.

The 2009 Recovery Act included more than $7 billion to expand access to high-speed Internet services to close the digital divide and spark economic growth. Through our Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, NTIA invested about $4 billion of that in 230 projects across the country that have built critical network infrastructure, opened or upgraded public computer centers and established broadband adoption programs. And through our State Broadband Initiative Program, we invested another almost $300 million to help states collect broadband data for the National Broadband Map and expand their statewide broadband capacity.

Today, these investments are enabling one-to-one computing programs and replacing old-fashioned textbooks with engaging online instructional materials in North Carolina classrooms. They are allowing Arkansas physicians to remotely examine patients located hundreds of miles away in far-flung rural corners of the state. They are supporting digital literacy training in low-income Latino communities across California. And they are bringing 4G LTE wireless broadband service to parts of the Navajo Nation that previously lacked even basic landline phone service.

Spotlight on NTIA: Evelyn Remaley, Deputy Associate Administrator, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

May 09, 2014 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Evelyn Remaley photoSince she landed her first job after graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Evelyn Remaley has worked on issues that explore the intersection of the Internet and society.

While a researcher with the Pittsburgh public library system, Remaley worked on the organization’s efforts to challenge the Communications Decency Act, a federal law that aimed to limit access to pornographic material on the Internet.  It was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1997. Even though her work with the Pittsburgh library and a stint as a grants writer at the University of Maryland delayed her from attending law school by a few years, she remained involved in technology and Internet related issues.

Since landing at NTIA last September, Remaley is helping to lead NTIA’s efforts to promote openness and innovation on the Internet as deputy associate administrator for the Office of Policy Analysis and Development. OPAD deals with a wide range of issues from promoting consumer choice through cell phone unlocking to protecting online privacy. In addition to helping to manage the office’s activities and staff, Remaley has been tasked with leading NTIA’s cybersecurity efforts, which will likely include reaching out to stakeholders on the best way to help them address cybersecurity challenges.