NTIA Brings a Comprehensive Approach to Community Broadband

September 11, 2014 by NTIA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) last week hosted the second in a series of stakeholder workshops as we launch a new initiative to leverage the success of our Recovery Act broadband grant programs and support communities nationwide seeking to build their broadband capacity.

Over the past five years, NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and State Broadband Initiative have invested more than $4 billion in network infrastructure, public computer centers, digital inclusion projects and broadband mapping. These programs have taught us that closing the digital divide is a multi-pronged challenge that demands a comprehensive, holistic approach.

Addressing existing gaps requires not only network availability and robust bandwidth, but also affordable computer equipment and monthly service, effective training and useful applications. It also requires collaboration among many stakeholders, including local, state and federal officials, community leaders, industry executives, private foundations and broadband advocates.

Last week’s workshop, held in Minneapolis, brought together more than 100 stakeholders for a series of informative panel discussions, presentations and networking opportunities. Participants also met with NTIA staff, who will be providing guidance, technical assistance, funding leads and connections to help communities expand broadband access and adoption.

The agenda featured speakers from a number of successful broadband projects in the Upper Midwest, including projects funded by NTIA in Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois and North Dakota.

Spotlight on NTIA: Robert Denny, electronics engineer in the International Spectrum Policy Division, Office of Spectrum Management

September 02, 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.

Robert DennyRobert Denny was no stranger to NTIA when he finally decided to come to work here four months ago as an electronics engineer in the Office of Spectrum Management’s International Spectrum Policy Division.

Prior to joining NTIA, Denny spent three years at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service, where he worked on many of the same issues he now deals with at NTIA.

Denny advocates for the U.S. position on issues related to international radio regulation at the International Telecommunication Union. But even before he came to the federal government, Denny’s work in the private sector aligned with many of NTIA’s issues.

He worked as a consulting engineer for several broadcasting and wireless companies. “Over the years, I had a lot of contacts with people at NTIA,” he says, adding that when he landed at NOAA, his NTIA colleagues urged him to apply whenever there were openings at the agency. “It became apparent that we had a lot in common and [were] a good match,” Denny notes.

Denny’s work requires him to travel to Geneva several times a year, but he doesn’t mind the travel. He said he did a lot more traveling as a consultant, sometimes spending as much as a quarter of his time on the road.

Building Community Broadband in the Upper Midwest

August 04, 2014 by Douglas Kinkoph, Acting Associate Administrator, Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications

Today, we are announcing the second in a series of workshops to share lessons we have learned from our broadband grants programs with communities nationwide seeking to build their broadband capacity.

NTIA Broadband Program Supports Workforce Preparation Across the United States

August 01, 2014 by Laura Breeden, program director for public computing and broadband adoption

“It’s been great seeing people come back and say, ‘I’ve been able to get a job,’ after we helped them with sprucing up their résumé and applying for jobs online.”  - PCC Staff Member, Las Vegas Urban League

“Without this computer lab, we would not be getting people the jobs that we’re getting them. It’s just a great thing.”  - Staff Member, Workforce West Virginia

Last week, President Obama signed the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs. Ensuring U.S. workers are able to compete and succeed is a key priority at the U.S. Commerce Department. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker served on a task force with Vice President Biden that recently released a report looking at solutions for making the nation’s workforce and training system more job-driven, integrated and effective.

Spotlight on NTIA: Bart Gibbon, Information Technology Engineer, Office of Policy Coordination and Management

July 31, 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.

Bart GibbonsBart Gibbon is not your average NTIA employee. He is one of a handful of employees at a remote site many NTIA employees might not have heard of before.

Gibbon is an information technology engineer at NTIA’s remote site operations in Gettysburg, Pa., where he has worked since he joined the agency in 2005. He spends his days in a different setting than the typical NTIA employee, but he says his work in the information technology department is just like that of any IT engineer. Up until two months ago, Gibbon was the sole IT employee at the Gettysburg office.

Day-to-day, Gibbon works on maintaining and enhancing the site’s capabilities by applying patches and updates to the servers and assists in responding to help desk tickets. Even though he is not in NTIA’s main Washington office, he says he spends most of his time on the phone with other NTIA employees. He also travels to the main office for meetings about every other month. 

Prior to working for NTIA, Gibbon served in the Navy for six years. After leaving the Navy, he worked from 1992-2005 as a civilian Defense Department employee to support the chief of naval operations as an electronic technician.

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.


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.


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.