Spotlight on NTIA: OSM’s Karl Nebbia

May 22, 2013 by NTIA

This is the second post in 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.

Mr. Karl Nebbia

Karl Nebbia, associate administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management, has among the most challenging jobs at NTIA: finding enough spectrum to meet both the government’s and industry’s need for wireless technologies.

NTIA is in charge of managing spectrum used by federal agencies to perform a plethora of critical functions for the United States from air traffic control to weather satellites to fighting forest fires.

But Nebbia’s office also is working to help meet the president’s goal of finding 500 megahertz of spectrum for wireless broadband over the next decade. As part of this effort, Nebbia has been guiding the Commerce Spectrum Management Advisory Committee, which has been working with other federal agencies and industry stakeholders to identify bands of federal spectrum that can be freed up for commercial use.

“The most difficult challenge is trying to accommodate all of these new systems and doing it with pretty limited staff,” says Nebbia, who has worked in spectrum management at NTIA for three decades.

NTIA Explores Broadband Availability in New Report Series

May 13, 2013 by Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative
Anne Neville, Director, State Broadband Initiative

Today, NTIA is pleased to introduce a new set of reports, the Broadband Briefs series, that use publicly available data collected by the U.S. Department of Commerce to examine broadband availability in greater detail. This report further examines improvements in broadband availability by speed, technology and location since 2010. NTIA noted in January that most Americans (98 percent) now have access to basic broadband service, and this report explores the change in availability over the last two years -- and the consistency with which broadband speeds are now available across the country.

Since June 2010, broadband availability at all speed levels has increased and basic broadband service is nearly universal in urban areas. While there is still a gap in broadband availability between urban and rural areas, 91 percent of rural Americans have access to basic broadband service as of June 2012. NTIA has been working to address gaps in availability and increase demand for services throughout the country through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), while the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP) has targeted rural areas in particular. Both programs were part of a 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act initiative aimed at expanding broadband access and adoption. NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative (SBI) has also supported broadband expansion and adoption, state and local planning and capacity-building activities.

World Telecommunications Policy Forum – Building Consensus in Support of a Global, Inclusive, Free, and Open Internet

May 10, 2013 by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Lawrence E. Strickling and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Daniel A. Sepulveda

Next week the U.S. will join the Member States of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) at the fifth World Telecommunication Policy Forum (WTPF) in Geneva.  The U.S. comes to Geneva expecting a consensus outcome to the discussions there but also to renew our commitment to understanding the needs and challenges some countries have with respect to the Internet.    

Many regions of the world feel that the Internet revolution is leaving them behind, and in some cases, feel left out of existing Internet governance structures.  The WTPF and the non-binding opinions it will adopt can help advance practical, informed solutions to these issues.  The U.S. delegation comes to engage in constructive dialogue on Internet-related public policy issues such as Internet Exchange Points (IXPs), Internet Protocol numbering resources, the expansion of broadband, and, perhaps most importantly, the multistakeholder approach to Internet governance. 

There are many different perspectives among fellow Member States regarding existing multistakeholder institutions such as the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the regional Internet registries (RIRs), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the Internet Society (ISOC) and the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).  The U.S. has made it a priority to work with colleagues so that these institutions are more welcoming to all governments and to provide them, as one among all stakeholders, a meaningful role in decision-making processes.

Spotlight on NTIA: BTOP’s Emy Tseng

May 03, 2013 by NTIA

This blog is part of a new “Spotlight on NTIA” series. We’ll be 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.

Emy Tseng photoMany people spend their working lives in one career. Emy Tseng, a program officer with NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), is working on three. Tseng has worked at NTIA since it launched BTOP in 2009. But working to expand broadband adoption and digital literacy wasn’t her first calling.

After graduating from Brown University with a math and physics degree, Tseng went to work as a software engineer. After years of working with technology, she decided she was more interested in working on ways to provide access to new technologies. In 1999, she left her job to obtain a degree in technology and policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The degree eventually led her to San Francisco, where she landed a job with ZeroDivide.org, an organization aimed at promoting digital inclusion. She went on to lead the City of San Francisco’s efforts to close its digital divide.

After NTIA launched BTOP in 2009, Tseng headed back to the East Coast to work as a program officer on its sustainable broadband adoption and public computer center grants.

The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided funding for the BTOP program, which focused on broadband sustainability, public computer centers and broadband infrastructure.

Administration Honored for Work on Public Safety Network

April 11, 2013 by

Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Lawrence Strickling was honored today for his leadership on behalf of the Obama administration’s efforts to enact wireless deployment and public safety provisions in the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012. PCIA, The Wireless Infrastructure Association, and the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials International (APCO) recognized Assistant Secretary Strickling and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for their work in helping to give first responders the 21st century tools they need to better respond to emergencies.

As part of the Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, Congress created the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) as an independent entity within NTIA to help establish the nation’s first nationwide public safety broadband network. For too long, the public safety community has been hampered by a patchwork of incompatible networks. Once operational, this network will allow first responders to better access information while at the scene of an emergency or natural disaster, such as being able to obtain the blueprints to a burning building.

NTIA met the congressional deadline to stand up FirstNet by Aug. 20, 2012, and has been working closely with the FirstNet board since to begin planning for the network. In addition to helping FirstNet with administrative and other tasks, NTIA is also overseeing a new $135 million State and Local Implementation Grant Program. The program will help state, regional, tribal and local jurisdictions in their planning to ensure FirstNet meets their wireless public safety needs. NTIA began accepting applications for the program in February and plans to award grants by mid-July.

Moving Together Beyond Dubai

April 02, 2013 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

The following blog post originally appeared on the website of the United States Telecommunications and Training Institute (USTTI).

I am honored to offer the inaugural contribution to the United States Telecommunications and Training Institute (USTTI) blog. USTTI has been an important institution for cooperation and the mutual sharing of expertise to meet our shared challenges with respect to communications technology. The United States Government remains committed to this example of enhanced cooperation and the friendships and cooperation that result from USTTI programs.

Today the world’s citizens are benefitting from the growth and innovation of the Internet. The Internet has flourished because of the approach taken from its infancy to resolve technical and policy questions. Known as the multistakeholder process, it involves the full involvement of all stakeholders, consensus-based decision-making and operating in an open, transparent and accountable manner. The multistakeholder model has promoted freedom of expression, both online and off. It has ensured the Internet is a robust, open platform for innovation, investment, economic growth and the creation of wealth throughout the world, including in developing countries.

For these reasons, the United States Government is committed to the multistakeholder model as the appropriate process for addressing Internet policy and governance issues. We believe that the Internet’s decentralized, multistakeholder processes enable us all to benefit from the engagement of all interested parties. By encouraging the participation of industry, civil society, technical and academic experts, and governments from around the globe, multistakeholder processes result in broader and more creative problem solving than traditional governmental approaches.


Promoting the Benefits of Digital Literacy

March 21, 2013 by Karen Hanson, Program Officer, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program
Karen Hanson, Program Officer, Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

Closing the digital divide – and getting all Americans online – requires a multipronged approach. It’s not enough just to provide affordable computer equipment and access to broadband at a reasonable price. Just as important is digital literacy training to teach people how to use the Internet and take advantage of everything it has to offer.

That’s why NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) has invested roughly $200 million in public computer centers that provide Internet access for those who don’t have it at home, and roughly $250 million in broadband adoption programs that cover everything from how to navigate the Web and set up an email account to how to post a resume online and conduct an online job search.

Today, we are pleased to spread the word about the launch of an important new effort to raise awareness of the benefits of digital literacy and promote programs working to ensure that all Americans can participate in our information-age society.

Connect2Compete, a non-profit seeking to close the digital divide, has teamed up with the Ad Council to kick off the “EveryoneOn, 3-21” Public Service Announcement (PSA) campaign just in time for March 21, or 3/21.

A major goal of the new campaign is to help people stuck on the wrong side of the divide find free computer classes and other broadband training opportunities in their communities. The campaign includes a 1-800 number, a mobile text short code and a Website – www.EveryoneOn.org – that let users look up local class offerings, public computer centers and even WiFi hot spots. We expect this to help even more people find BTOP-funded computer centers and training programs across the country.

Supporting Innovative Approaches to Spectrum Sharing

March 11, 2013 by Lawrence E. Strickling, Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), Tom Power, Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

This article is cross-posted on the OSTP blog

The President’s strategy for expanding the capacity of high-speed wireless broadband services across the Nation may get a boost from a new Defense Department Initiative to fund research and development of innovative new approaches to spectrum sharing.

Wireless technology continues to drive innovation and productivity in the United States, fueling economic growth and creating jobs.  By most measures, the United States leads the world in the development and deployment of cutting-edge wireless technologies.  More subscribers to advanced 4G wireless broadband live in the United States than in the rest of the world combined.   U.S. companies dominate the market for smartphone operating systems and online apps.  And the wireless industry contributes hundreds of billions of dollars to America’s gross domestic product.

Building on U.S. leadership and promoting even greater economic growth requires that the Nation make ever more efficient use of spectrum, the airwaves on which wireless services ride.  Consumers are demanding more spectrum for smartphones and tablets, as are stakeholders from other sectors of the economy and society, including healthcare, transportation, and education.   Many critical Government services require spectrum as well, including air traffic control systems, wireless surveillance by law enforcement, weather monitoring, and military combat training.  Ensuring adequate spectrum to support the expected growth in all of these commercial and non-commercial uses poses  technical challenges and will require trade-offs.

NTIA Oversight Is Helping BTOP Projects Succeed

February 22, 2013 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

As the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) nears completion, NTIA staff is continuing to work closely with our grantees to ensure that projects are wrapping up on time and within budget, delivering the promised broadband benefits to the communities they serve.

Ensuring projects meet their milestones and protecting taxpayer funds is of paramount importance to NTIA. Our staff performs extensive and diligent oversight and provides technical assistance to our recipients tailored to their needs. This oversight involves a significant level of effort, and requires our staff to sometimes take tough enforcement action to protect taxpayer funds.

NTIA oversees our projects in a number of ways. Staff remains in close and frequent contact with award recipients via regularly scheduled conference calls, email exchanges, drop-in calls on specific administrative or programmatic topics, and in-person conferences. These contacts serve as a means to reinforce the terms and conditions associated with each award and help ensure that NTIA quickly addresses challenges that arise. Additionally, recipients must report quarterly and annually to NTIA on key financial and programmatic activities. These reports are posted publicly and provide detailed information on progress in achieving program outcomes, use of funds, challenges faced, and expected future progress.  Finally, NTIA conducts site visits to projects and has conducted over 150 oversight visits representing more than 94 percent of BTOP federal award dollars.

As issues arise, NTIA utilizes tools such as technical assistance, Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs), Corrective Action Plans (CAPs), award suspension, or award termination, to highlight concerns and provide opportunities for recipients to get back on track. 

Bringing Broadband to Rural South Dakota

February 13, 2013 by NTIA

To understand how rural South Dakota is, consider this: The state ranks 17th in the nation in terms of geographic size, but 46th in population - with fewer than 820,000 people, according to the 2010 Census. In some parts of South Dakota, the distance between farmsteads can be six miles. Cattle outnumber people four to one.

For telecommunications companies, the state’s sparse population means that there are not enough customers in many places to enable them to recoup costly investments in advanced telecommunications networks needed to deliver high-speed Internet service.

But even in the most remote corners of the country, access to broadband is becoming critical to fully participating in today’s digital society and information-age economy.

That’s why NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program awarded a $20.6 million grant to SDN Communications just over three years ago to bring broadband to parts of South Dakota that otherwise might never get it. The grant was one of the first to be announced in the $4 billion BTOP program, which is investing in roughly 230 projects nationwide that are building the technology infrastructure and skills that America needs to compete in the 21st century.

SDN Communications, a partnership of 27 independent telecom carriers covering 80 percent of South Dakota, is using its BTOP funding to expand its 1,850-mile, 800-gigabit fiber network by almost 400 additional miles and add an additional 100 gigabits of bandwidth along high-capacity routes.

The project is bringing broadband connections to nearly 310 new anchor institutions, including schools, libraries, hospitals, clinics, public safety agencies, government buildings and National Guard facilities. It is also bringing faster connections to more than 220 anchor institutions already on the system.