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.   


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.

New Case Studies Show Schools, Libraries and Health Care Providers Play Key Role in Broadband Expansion and Adoption

May 09, 2014 by NTIA

“With their own laptops, they can do their homework anytime. And then, all of a sudden, you see the homework, you see the projects being done, and the scientific research symposiums that they’re applying to. You see them taking it a little bit further with the scholarship applications.” – MESA Director, Skyline Community College, CA (Foundation for California Community Colleges partner)

In 2010, as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), NTIA awarded more than $450 million in matching grants to establish or upgrade public computer centers and initiate innovative broadband adoption programs in underserved communities. Four years later, that investment has resulted in more than 3,000 new or improved public computer centers and produced 600,000 new household broadband subscriptions.

These grants complement the $3.4 billion in infrastructure investments from NTIA that have enabled BTOP grant recipients to connect more than 21,000 community anchor institutions with ultra-fast broadband, including 2,400 medical and health care providers, more than 1,300 libraries, and 8,000 K-12 schools.  BTOP has provided a significant down-payment on President Obama’s ConnectED initiative to link all schools to high-speed Internet by 2018.

Schools, libraries, and health care providers were pivotal in making this rapid expansion possible.  These anchor institutions already had close ties to their communities, recognized the enormous benefits high-speed Internet affords, and possessed skilled staff to organize classes and broker learning resources. 

A Major Win for the Open Internet

April 30, 2014 by Michael Daniel, Lawrence E. Strickling, Daniel Sepulveda, Christopher Painter and Scott Busby

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

Last week, we announced that we were heading to São Paulo, Brazil to attend NETmundial, a global meeting of governments, entrepreneurs, academics, Internet institutions, civil society activists and users to discuss the future of Internet governance.  We expressed our hope that NETmundial would make an important contribution to the positive evolution of the Internet and its governance.  Our optimism was well-founded.  As one of Brazil’s leading Internet scholars and chair of Netmundial Virgilio Almeida brought NETmundial to a close, the U.S. government delegation rose in applause.  And almost everyone else in the room rose with us.

We applauded to affirm the Multistakeholder Statement of São Paulo, the ideas it presents, the ideals it embraces, and the multistakeholder process that made it possible.  We rose out of appreciation for the Brazilians and the Internet community leaders that brought us together and impressively managed a challenging conversation.  And we rose in joint commitment to preserving, promoting, and expanding the benefits of a single, interoperable, open, and global Internet for all of the world’s people.

Supporting an Open and Inclusive Internet in Brazil

April 21, 2014 by Michael Daniel, Lawrence E. Strickling, Daniel Sepulveda, Christopher Painter and Scott Busby

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

This week, we head to Sao Paulo, Brazil, to attend NETmundial, a global meeting of governments, entrepreneurs, academics, Internet institutions, activists and users to discuss the future of Internet governance.  Over two days delegates will discuss and work toward developing a set of principles to guide international Internet governance activities in the future.  We will also try to construct a roadmap for the evolution of the existing multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance to increase its inclusiveness, transparency, and responsiveness to the needs of underrepresented communities.

The United States will work with other delegations to expand the community of individuals, organizations, firms, and governments who are willing to put their faith in the proven multi-stakeholder system of cooperation and coordination;  this system has enabled the unprecedented growth of the global Internet, which in turn has fueled economic development and innovation.  Along with most of the world’s Internet advocates and users, we believe that no one stakeholder or group of stakeholders, including governments, should have control over the operation or protocols of the Internet or the creativity, innovation, and freedom of expression that it enables.

With the help of those who share our faith in the Internet community and its potential, success in Sao Paulo will represent a significant step towards preserving and protecting the social and economic advancement that the Internet is making possible throughout the world.

NTIA Releases 3 Case Studies Examining Impact of Broadband Grants Program on Connecting Libraries

April 17, 2014 by NTIA

“Without broadband, they can't get jobs, and it's as simple as that.” – Georgetown Job Center Coordinator (Delaware Department of Libraries BTOP PCC Project)

In 2010, as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), NTIA awarded more than $200 million in matching grants to establish or upgrade public computer centers (PCCs) throughout the United States.  More than 2,000 of those centers are operated by public libraries, from Maine to Arizona.  These grants complement the $3.4 billion in infrastructure investments that have allowed BTOP grant recipients to connect more than 1,300 libraries nationally with ultra-fast broadband, providing a significant down-payment on President Obama’s ConnectED initiative.     

Today we are releasing the first three of 15 PCC and broadband adoption case studies.  These focus on the impact of grants in Delaware, Texas and Michigan.  The release coincides with an important hearing on libraries and broadband, sponsored by the federal Institute for Museum and Library Services, or IMLS.   The case studies were conducted for NTIA by an independent research firm, ASR Analytics, which analyzed the impact these PCCs are having in their local communities. 

Introducing Spectrum.gov

April 11, 2014 by Karl Nebbia, NTIA’s Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

The growing proliferation of wireless devices is prompting heightened interest in and demand for spectrum used by federal agencies. In response, NTIA today is launching Spectrum.gov, a new website aimed at providing greater transparency regarding how federal government agencies utilize spectrum.

Spectrum.gov provides a compendium of federal spectrum use in the 225 megahertz through 5 gigahertz bands—prime real estate that has prompted the most interest from both federal and commercial users. It contains information for each frequency band in which the federal government has significant operations on an exclusive or shared basis. Just as commercial broadband providers are facing growing demands for spectrum to fuel the explosion of new wireless devices, federal agencies’ demand for spectrum also is growing. NTIA’s compendium shows agencies need spectrum for crucial tasks ranging from military flight testing to air traffic control to weather forecasting.

Spectrum.gov is part of NTIA’s ongoing efforts to help meet President Obama’s goal of making an additional 500 megahertz of spectrum available for wireless broadband by 2020. This newly published data provides a band-by-band description of how spectrum is used by federal agencies, the number and type of frequency assignments NTIA has authorized, and the percentage of frequency assignments by category. In addition, the new website also features a contour map showing where federal systems that utilize spectrum are located across the country.

This latest data, which will be updated regularly, is an important resource for all stakeholders to help determine potential opportunities and obstacles to repurposing federal bands for commercial uses.

Promoting Internet Growth and Innovation Through Multistakeholder Internet Governance

March 19, 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

This past Friday, NTIA asked the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) to convene global stakeholders to develop a proposal to transition the U.S. government’s stewardship of the Internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). This marks a major milestone toward the final phase of the privatization of the DNS, which was first outlined by the U.S. Government in 1997.

We believe the timing is right for this transition, and a broad group of stakeholders – both domestically and internationally – have expressed their support and cooperation in this process.

Cisco commended NTIA for outlining a “powerful process for the move towards full privatization and globalization of DNS management.” Microsoft said it “relies on the stability, resilience and security of the DNS system to enable our cloud services – and we are confident that now is the right time to complete this transition.”  Other industry giants like AT&T, Verizon, and Google, similarly issued statements in support of our announcement. 

NTIA Brings Broadband Opportunities to Alaska

March 11, 2014 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Last week, I traveled to Anchorage for the annual economic summit hosted by the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference, a non-profit regional economic development organization. The Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference is working to improve the quality of life and drive responsible development across the Alaska Peninsula, the Aleutian Islands, Bristol Bay, the Kodiak Archipelago and the Pribilof Islands.

Last week’s summit had a packed agenda, covering everything from energy conservation to sustainable fishing practices. One big topic of conversation was broadband and the power of high-speed Internet to open up economic, educational and social opportunities in some of the poorest, most isolated communities in our nation.

It’s no wonder that the Alaska state nickname is “The Last Frontier.” The state is more than double the size of Texas, with more than 3 million lakes, 34,000 miles of shoreline, and 29,000 square miles of ice fields. But with fewer than 750,000 residents, Alaska includes some of the most remote, sparsely populated pockets of the U.S. Many Alaska Natives reside in tiny villages with just a few hundred people and lead subsistence lifestyles.

Broadband offers these communities a way to connect with the wider world and access everything from online classes to healthcare services to job opportunities. It also offers Alaska Natives a way to preserve their indigenous culture for future generations and share it with a global audience.

At the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, we see first-hand evidence of this through our investments in several Alaska broadband projects: