NTIA Blog

Twenty Years after the Birth of the Modern Internet, U.S. Policies Continue to Help the Internet Grow and Thrive

May 01, 2015 by John B. Morris, Jr., Associate Administrator and Director of Internet Policy, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Yesterday, I had the great opportunity to speak at the United States Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) to a group of foreign government officials focused on Internet and cybersecurity issues. My talk focused on how NTIA sees the role of the Internet in the U.S. economy, and what key policies have contributed to the strength of the U.S. Internet economy. 

Participants included representatives from Bangladesh, Barbados, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Tanzania and Uganda. The daylong course, organized by NTIA’s Office of International Affairs, introduced basic concepts in Internet policymaking and governance to build awareness, and develop and improve policymaking skills while working in a multistakeholder environment with government, civil society, industry and others. The course, which will take place again in September, examined U.S. Internet policy approaches, taking into consideration some of the key international issues and debates occurring globally.

Our discussion happened to fall on the 20th birthday of the commercial Internet, which fit right into my theme. The NSFnet was decommissioned on April 30, 1995, paving the way for the commercial use and private governance of the Internet. In its wake, we have witnessed an extraordinary explosion of innovation and economic growth in the online environment.

These are six key policies that I believe have contributed to the strength of the U.S. digital economy and provide a model for developing countries, such as those that participated in the USTTI course, to consider as they seek to grow their economies:

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Bringing Spectrum Sharing to a "Model City"

April 17, 2015 by NTIA

As we explore a bold new world of sharing spectrum across government and commercial users, NTIA is continuing the conversation about how to make this vision a reality.

NTIA and the Federal Communications this week held a two-day workshop focused on the Model City initiative, which would establish a pilot program in a major U.S. city or cities that will serve as a test bed to evaluate and demonstrate spectrum-sharing technology in a real-world urban environment. The project would be a public-private partnership launched with the support of NTIA, which manages federal uses of wireless spectrum, and the FCC, which regulates commercial use of the airwaves.

It has been nearly three years since the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) issued a groundbreaking report laying out a bold new vision to make the most efficient use of government-held wireless spectrum and realize its full potential to spur economic growth, drive innovation and fuel the mobile broadband revolution.

The nut of the report was this: commercial demand for spectrum is exploding even as federal agencies require more spectrum for mission-critical applications like national defense and law enforcement. So we need to find a new way to manage this precious and finite resource. The traditional approach of clearing spectrum used by government agencies and auctioning it off for exclusive private-sector use, the PCAST report warned, is often too costly, too time-consuming and too disruptive to federal missions. The future lies in sharing spectrum.

Innovation, Collaboration and Sharing in the 3.5 GHz Band

April 17, 2015 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

In an important step toward meeting President Obama’s goal of making 500 megahertz of spectrum available for mobile broadband by 2020, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today approved an innovative regulatory framework that will enable access to 100 megahertz of spectrum in the 3550-3650 MHz (3.5 GHz) band. Today’s action grew out of NTIA’s October 2010 “fast track” evaluation report that identified the 3.5 GHz band as an important band to explore to help meet the 500 megahertz commitment and address surging demand for commercial wireless broadband.

NTIA’s fast track report proposed shared commercial and federal use of the 3.5 GHz band as long as geographic exclusion zones protected critical high-powered radar systems operated by the Department of Defense (DoD). However, NTIA recognized that large exclusion zones could hamper the deployment of commercial broadband services. To address this, NTIA engineers spearheaded groundbreaking analysis and modeling techniques and collaborated closely with DoD and FCC staff. This team effort resulted in significantly reduced exclusion zones, maximizing the commercial market potential for new broadband services.  These results, along with a pioneering regulatory framework that relies on technical solutions to minimize the impact of these zones, are the foundation of the FCC’s new rules.

Technical Studies to Support Examination of Sharing Options in the 2900-3100 MHz Band

April 14, 2015 by Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS)

The Federal Government uses the 2900 - 3100 MHz band  of spectrum for operating various types of radar systems that are used for safe and reliable maritime navigation and accurate weather monitoring. This band is one of the bands NTIA is considering in its effort to fulfill the President’s goal of identifying 500 megahertz of spectrum for commercial wireless broadband by 2020.  Three reports released today describe a multi-year research effort performed by NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) and funded by the United States Coast Guard providing technical information that can be used to examine different sharing options between marine radar systems operating in the 2900 - 3100 MHz band and commercial wireless broadband systems.

Marine radar slotted array antenna mounted on motor which spins it.
Marine radar slotted array antenna (white bar) mounted on motor which spins it.

Marine radar systems are authorized to operate in the 2900 - 3100 MHz band. These radars are used by ships to avoid collisions with objects while traveling in oceans, seas, lakes, and rivers. Detection of objects, referred to as targets, is often difficult. Rough seas, cross-section variation, and signal reflections or clutter from waves and precipitation can reduce the radar’s ability to detect a target. Interference can further reduce the operational range of the radar or cause the radar to not detect the target.

Bob Achatz
Bob Achatz is the lead author on all three reports.

Broadband Infrastructure Case Studies Released – How Broadband Changes the Game

April 13, 2015 by Sandeep Taxali, NTIA Senior Policy Analyst

Over the past five years through our national broadband grant program, NTIA has seen first-hand the economic and societal impact that broadband has on communities across the country. At the Broadband Communities conference in Austin, Texas this week, NTIA’s BroadbandUSA team will share our plans to leverage that expertise by providing communities with technical assistance and field-tested ideas.  I will be speaking along with my NTIA colleagues Doug Kinkoph and Anne Neville. 

An important component of our on-going work with communities is to build on the lessons learned from an independent evaluation of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to make sound decisions going forward.  In 2010 NTIA hired ASR Analytics, LLC to conduct a comprehensive study on the societal and economic impacts of the program.  In advance of the Broadband Communities conference, NTIA is today releasing the final case studies from the evaluation.  The principal author of the study, Dr. Stephen Rhody, will present and discuss the findings. 

The reports released today are the final ASR case studies focusing on 12 of the 109 Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) projects NTIA funded through BTOP to build middle-mile networks in 45 states and U.S. territories. These grantees deployed more than 113,000 miles of fiber across the country. In the process, they connected or upgraded 25,300 community anchor institutions and signed more than 860 interconnection agreements with local service providers.

Promoting Broadband Across the Federal Government

March 24, 2015 by NTIA

This blog is cross posted on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s blog

At the U.S. Department of Commerce, we have witnessed first-hand the power of broadband to drive economic growth and innovation, open up new employment opportunities for Americans across the income spectrum and expand access to everything from education to healthcare to government services.

That’s why we see investing in broadband – and digital inclusion – as a critical part of our ongoing push to sustain the economic recovery and build the critical infrastructure that our nation needs to remain competitive in the 21st century. A top priority of the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration is to work with communities across the country to ensure that all their citizens have access to high-speed Internet connectivity and the skills to use it to improve their lives.

Building on the Administration’s efforts to close the digital divide, the White House today announced a new interagency working group – called the Broadband Opportunity Council – to promote broadband investment and coordinate broadband policy across the federal government. The council will include representatives from 25 federal agencies and departments, and will be co-chaired by the U.S. Departments of Commerce and Agriculture. NTIA will spearhead work on the new program for the Commerce Department.

The Broadband Opportunity Council is the latest initiative in the Administration’s push to increase investment in our nation’s critical infrastructure, including roads, bridges, ports, drinking water and sewer systems and, of course, broadband networks.

National Broadband Map has Helped Chart Broadband Evolution

March 23, 2015 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

When NTIA launched the National Broadband Map in 2011, American consumers and businesses had few places to turn to when trying to determine who offered broadband in their communities. The National Broadband Map has not only filled that void but has helped detail the evolution of broadband in the United States as providers upgrade or expand their networks to meet the growing demand for faster broadband.

For the last five years, each state, territory and the District of Columbia has collected the broadband availability data that powers the National Broadband Map with the help of grants funded by NTIA through the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Every six months, states have submitted to NTIA data compiled from information gathered from broadband providers, public and commercial data, consumers and local governments. Today, we are releasing updated broadband map data, current as of June 30, 2014.

Broadband Availability Demographics  map
This map displays availability of higher broadband speeds across demographic characteristics

Spotlight on NTIA: Chris Hemmerlein, Telecommunications Policy Specialist, Office of International Affairs

March 03, 2015 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.

Chris Hemmerlein says he feels fortunate to have a job that he enjoys so much. Hemmerlein, a telecommunications policy specialist in the Office of International Affairs, handles Asia- and United Nations-related issues for NTIA.

Chris Hemmerlein
Source: International Telecommunication Union

After spending a year teaching English in Japan and studying in Australia as an undergraduate student, Hemmerlein realized his true calling was international affairs. Hemmerlein would go on to earn a Master’s Degree in international relations at the University of California at San Diego.

Hemmerlein found his way to NTIA five years ago after landing a position with the prestigious Presidential Management Fellows program following graduate school. He was hired in NTIA’s Office of International Affairs (OIA) as part of his fellowship. In addition to landing a full-time job, the fellowship also gave him the chance to spend five months in Paris through a rotation at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, where he represented NTIA during the development of the Principles for Internet Policy Making.

Stakeholders Continue Historic Work on Internet DNS Transition at ICANN Singapore Meeting

February 19, 2015 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

Last week, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) held its 52nd meeting in Singapore, where the global multistakeholder community continued progress on a proposal to transition the United States role related to the Internet Domain Name System.

I was pleased to see the amount of energy and professionalism exhibited by the nearly 1800 participants at the ICANN meeting. The Internet’s stakeholders are driving this transition and are demonstrating that businesses, technical experts, and civil society groups are best equipped to set the future direction of the Internet.  Under this multistakeholder model, no one party can control the Internet or impose its will. And that’s what’s enabled the Internet to flourish and evolve into this global medium that has torn down barriers to free speech and fueled economic growth and innovation.

 It is so important that we get this transition right. If it doesn’t take place, we will embolden authoritarian regimes to seek greater government control of the Internet or to threaten to fragment the Internet, which would result in a global patchwork of regulations and rules that stifle the free flow of information.

Now that we are nearing the one-year anniversary of our announcement, it is important to take stock of where this transition process stands. Stakeholders have organized two major work streams to develop the overall plan:  one group is focused on the specifics of the IANA functions and the second is addressing questions of the overall accountability of ICANN to the global community of Internet stakeholders. 

Expanding the Benefits of Broadband in Mississippi

February 11, 2015 by NTIA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s BroadbandUSA team convened a productive workshop in Jackson, Miss., last week to explore ways to close the digital divide in a state that continues to expand broadband connectivity and adoption.

The event was the second in a series of regional workshops that NTIA is hosting across the country as part of its new BroadbandUSA program, which is helping communities improve local broadband capacity and utilization.

The new initiative – highlighted by President Obama last month – builds on lessons learned and best practices from NTIA’s successful broadband grant programs, which invested more than $4 billion in network infrastructure, public computer centers, digital literacy training and broadband mapping. BroadbandUSA provides resources – including technical assistance, toolkits and guides – to help communities assess local broadband needs, engage stakeholders, explore business models, evaluate financing options and attract private-sector investment.

The Mississippi workshop - presented in cooperation with the non-profit Connect MS and the Mississippi Economic Development Council – drew panelists and attendees from across the Gulf Region. But much of the focus was on Mississippi, which in 2009 created a statewide taskforce to coordinate efforts on broadband policy.