NTIA Blog

BTOP Case Study Three: Mark Shlanta, CEO, SDN Communications

February 08, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting South Dakota infrastructure grantee SDN Communications.

SDN Communications, a partnership of 27 independent telecom providers covering 80 percent of South Dakota, is using a Recovery Act grant to expand its 1,850-mile, 300-gigabit-per-second fiber-optic network by another 360 miles and add an additional 100 gigabits of bandwidth along high-capacity routes. The project will enable SDN to deliver broadband speeds of at least 10 megabits per second to 300 anchor institutions that will be added to the network, including schools, libraries, hospitals, clinics, public safety agencies, government buildings and National Guard facilities. It will also deliver faster connections to more than 220 anchor institutions already on the system.

SDN construction crew at work

Shlanta said that in a rural state like South Dakota, broadband brings critical new opportunities in healthcare and education. Broadband allows patients who live in rural communities located far from big hospitals to consult with doctors and other healthcare specialists across the state. Broadband also allows school districts to share staff and resources by making it possible for students to remotely attend classes hosted by other districts. One institution that will get faster connections is the Telecommunications Lab at the Mitchell Technical Institute in Mitchell, S.D., which prepares students for careers in the telecom industry and is training workers to operate broadband networks such as those being built with BTOP funds.

BTOP Case Study Two: Susan Walters, Senior Vice President, California Emerging Technology Fund

February 07, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting California sustainable broadband adoption grantee CETF.

The California Emerging Technology Fund (CETF), a non-profit working to close the state's digital divide, is using a Recovery Act investment to provide computer, digital literacy and workforce training for low-income communities and other vulnerable populations. CETF works through 19 partners statewide, including non-profits that offer job training and career development services for the unemployed and homeless. Two of those organizations, Chrysalis in Southern California and The Stride Center in Northern California, are using Recovery Act funding to train clients in information technology skills and place graduates in IT positions. CETF also works with partners such as the Chicana Latina Foundation and Youth Radio, to raise awareness of the importance of broadband and ensure its programs serve California's diverse population - from Hispanic farm workers in the Central Valley to seniors in San Francisco's Chinatown. Classes are offered in Spanish, Chinese and other languages.

 

CETF Computer Lab

Chrysalis Computer Lab

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BTOP Case Study One: Joe Freddoso, President and Chief Executive, MCNC

February 06, 2012 by NTIA

As part of our BTOP series: Tales from the Front Lines, today we are highlighting North Carolina infrastructure grantee MCNC.

 

MCNC, a nonprofit broadband provider that operates the North Carolina Research and Education Network (NCREN), is using Recovery Act funds to deploy or upgrade 2,600 miles of fiber in rural areas across the state. The network will initially deliver speeds of 10 gigabits per second and eventually scale to a 100-gigabit-per-second middle-mile network. It will extend the reach of the existing NCREN system to connect nearly 2,700 additional anchor institutions, including libraries, hospitals and public safety facilities. The new network will also deliver faster and more reliable connections to K-12 schools, colleges and universities already on NCREN. And it will be an important source of dark fiber for commercial Internet providers that want to expand their own systems. MCNC's project is already creating construction jobs and jobs for local vendors such as CommScope in Hickory, N.C., which is supplying fiber and other materials. It is also laying the groundwork for economic revitalization in places such as Kannapolis, N.C., a former textile mill town that is reinventing itself as a biotechnology and life sciences hub.

 

Construction crew

MCNC construction crew at work.

 

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Tales from the front lines of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program

February 06, 2012 by NTIA

The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is producing jobs, driving growth, providing tools for economic empowerment and improving lives across the country. That was the takeaway from a recent panel discussion at the annual State of the Net conference held in Washington, D.C. last month. The conference, which is organized by the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus, explores the biggest technology policy issues of the day. This year’s conference included a panel devoted to BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by NTIA that is investing in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country.

The BTOP infrastructure projects are bringing broadband to places where it’s lagging and supplying high-capacity connections to schools, hospitals and other anchor institutions that need more bandwidth. These projects are also spurring private-sector investment since local Internet providers can connect to these critical new "middle mile" facilities to serve more homes and businesses. The BTOP adoption programs are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy. And the BTOP computer centers - located in schools, libraries and other public buildings - are providing broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home.

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Save the Date: 13th Annual ISART Scheduled for July 25–26, 2012 at ITS in Boulder, Colorado

February 02, 2012 by Al Vincent, Director, NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

ISART LOGO

 

In today’s wireless world,  the demand for spectrum from consumers, businesses, and federal users continues to grow at a rapid rate.  In fact,  global mobile traffic nearly tripled in 2010, for the third year in a row.  At NTIA, a critical part of our work involves developing policies and processes to maximize the efficient use of spectrum – and this work is more important now than ever before.  In fact, Assistant Secretary Strickling has highlighted spectrum sharing as a key area for research and analysis if we are going to meet consumers’ and businesses’ growing demand for wireless broadband services in the coming years.

Advanced Digital Literacy – Opportunities for All Skill Levels

February 01, 2012 by Angela Simpson, NTIA Chief of Staff (Acting) and Senior Advisor for Broadband

When discussing digital literacy, most conversations center around people's initial contact with computers and learning how the Internet is relevant to their lives; the basics on how to obtain information, goods, and services online; and developing the threshold skills necessary to succeed in the digital economy.  These basic skills are building blocks for success, and are the focus of many of our Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP) projects.

Digital literacy is an ongoing process, however, and “advanced” digital literacy can have tremendous economic impacts – both from the perspective of the person learning marketable computer skills necessary to compete in today’s digital economy, and from the macroeconomic perspective in helping to realize the President’s vision of a more competitive America built to last.

The Critical Role Broadband Plays in Today's Economy

January 27, 2012 by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez
Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez

This week I had the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion hosted by the National Organization of Black Elected Legislative Women, or NOBEL, that examined how broadband is helping to address many of America’s most pressing challenges.

A robust broadband infrastructure is critical for America to remain competitive in the 21st century. Broadband provides a foundation for innovation, job creation and economic growth. Broadband is also transforming healthcare by enabling patients in rural areas to consult with medical specialists hundreds of miles away. It is opening doors in education by allowing students to take online classes at universities across the country. And it is changing the way we communicate, form personal connections, access information, shop and conduct many everyday transactions.

The Obama administration is working to ensure that more Americans have the resources and skills to share in these benefits and opportunities. This is particularly critical in today’s job market, since many job openings are posted only online and since digital literacy skills are a requirement in many workplaces.

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The National Broadband Map Goes Mobile

January 20, 2012 by Eric Spry, Federal Communications Commission

This week we are happy to announce a new feature of the National Broadband Map that will make it easier to use on your mobile device. This new feature allows anyone on the go to more easily search broadband availability, summarize and rank data, and view a map of community anchor institutions — all optimized for their mobile device.

The mobile browser version of the National Broadband Map is designed to provide a clean, intuitive experience on the screen size of a smartphone. Users swipe across panels of information and can always access additional information by sliding the footer panel up. A convenient sharing panel is also available at the top of each page.

Users are now able to search for local broadband data with their smart phones’ GPS capabilities, if available. Traditional search is also supported, and the results are presented in a new format for mobile devices: in search results, just tap on a broadband provider to see further details and to access our crowdsource voting links.

The Community Anchor Institutions map is the first map we are deploying for a mobile environment. Tap “Search” to enter an address and find the 25 closest facilities. The map will zoom to the request location, and each point will offer information about the facility and any known broadband service details. Watch for additional maps to be included in the future.

Developers will be interested to know that we use the jQuery Mobile framework, and users will appreciate a wide range of supported mobile browsers (see: jquerymobile.com/gbs/). To use the mobile interface, simply visit www.broadbandmap.gov with your mobile device, and it will appear automatically. Links to the complete desktop version are always available on the page footer.

Commerce COMPETES Report: BTOP is Building Infrastructure for the 21st Century

January 06, 2012 by NTIA

The U.S Department of Commerce today released a comprehensive report on “The Competitiveness and Innovative Capacity of the United States.” 

Part of the report explores the federal role in providing a 21st century infrastructure and highlights Administration efforts already underway, including NTIA’s BTOP program, which is expanding broadband access and adoption in communities across the country. 

These projects are already having a positive impact on the lives of Americans: new public computer centers are open, free computer classes and job-trainings are underway, and infrastructure projects are under construction. Already, grantees in NTIA’s BTOP program say that they have deployed or upgraded more than 29,000 miles of broadband infrastructure and installed more than 24,000 workstations in public computer centers. In the last quarter, grantees provided more than 755,000 hours of training to around 220,000 participants.  And grantees say that their programs have already led to a total of more than 230,000 new broadband subscribers.

Deputy Assistant Secretary Anna Gomez discusses the important role of broadband Internet in boosting America’s competitiveness. (Video Transcript)

A Look Ahead to 2012: NTIA by the Numbers

December 30, 2011 by NTIA

In the coming year NTIA will continue its focus on three key areas: expanding high speed Internet access and adoption, freeing up more spectrum for wireless broadband, and promoting policies that preserve the Internet as an engine for innovation and economic growth. Here are some numbers to illustrate these challenges.

 

1.  Expanding High Speed Internet Access and Adoption

High-speed Internet access and online skills are increasingly necessary to compete in today’s economy, yet many Americans are on the wrong side of the digital

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