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New Data Show Substantial Gains and Evolution in Internet Use

June 06, 2018 by David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

The digital divide is showing signs of giving way as more Americans from all walks of life connect to the Internet. Several historically disadvantaged groups showed significant increases in online adoption, according to initial results from NTIA’s most recent survey on Internet use conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The survey, which was conducted in November 2017, reveals new contours of Americans’ Internet use. In 2017, more households had a mobile data plan than wired broadband service. Additionally, for the first time since NTIA began tracking use of different types of computing devices, tablets were more popular than desktop computers among Americans, and the number of people who used multiple types of devices also increased substantially.

Narrowing Digital Divide

The data show that 78 percent of Americans ages 3 and older used the Internet as of November 2017, compared with 75 percent in July 2015, when our previous survey was conducted. This increase of 13.5 million users was driven by increased adoption among low-income families, seniors, African Americans, Hispanics, and other groups that have been less likely to go online.

NTIA Launches Initiative to Improve Software Component Transparency

June 06, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Most modern software is a creation of existing components, modules, and libraries from the open source and commercial software world. A detailed accounting of components isn’t always available, which can create obstacles when protecting against security risks. This challenge is compounded by the growth in Internet of Things devices, as companies add “smart” features or connectivity without clear visibility into a product’s underlying software components.

To address this problem, NTIA is convening a multistakeholder process to develop greater transparency of software components for better security across the digital ecosystem. While the majority of libraries and components do not have known vulnerabilities, many do, and the sheer quantity of software means that some software products ship with out-of-date components that may never be updated.

Through an open, transparent, and consensus-based process, NTIA will work to identify how software component data can be shared, what practices can be easily and voluntarily adopted, and what policy and market challenges should be addressed by the broad community. This initiative builds on prior work by NTIA stakeholders on IoT cybersecurity best practices. It is also NTIA’s first step in implementing the actions put forward by government and industry stakeholders in the Report to the President on Enhancing Resilience Against Botnets.

NTIA Looks to Stakeholders to Help Shape its International Agenda

June 04, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Giving voice to all stakeholders in an open and transparent decision-making process is a core goal of NTIA’s international engagement. We are working on a number of issues, from protecting the availability of WHOIS information to pushing for more effective membership oversight of the International Telecommunication Union. As we look to further build out our international agenda, we want to hear from stakeholders about the critical global policy areas we will face this year and beyond.

In a notice of inquiry, we are asking all interested stakeholders – businesses, civil society groups, the technical community, academics, and the general public to provide us with comments and recommendations. The input we receive will inform NTIA's international Internet policy priorities going forward.

While we are open to comments and policy suggestions on any issue, we have identified four broad topic areas and some key questions we think are especially important:

NTIA Requests Feedback on Improving Broadband Availability Data

May 30, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

Across the country, Americans use broadband to learn, shop, grow their businesses, and connect with friends and family around the world. Communities that gain access to affordable, high-speed Internet see improvements to economic growth, educational opportunities, and public safety and health care services.

Much of America has been reaping the rewards of broadband for years, but there are still areas of the country that don’t have the connectivity needed to keep up with the modern economy. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), more than 30 percent of rural Americans live in areas that lack broadband availability.

We know these gaps exist, but what we don’t know is precisely which areas of the country have insufficient broadband capacity. That makes it difficult to ensure that public investments in infrastructure are efficient and effective. Right now, the FCC’s Form 477 data, which is collected from broadband service providers, is our only source for nationwide broadband availability information. The Form 477 data program is valuable, but the data is not independently validated or verified. It is also reported at the Census block level, so that can lead to inaccuracies that overstate availability – especially in rural areas where Census blocks are large.

Dynamic Protection Areas Will Spur Spectrum Sharing

May 25, 2018 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

One of NTIA’s most important responsibilities is working with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to find spectrum to support competitive and ubiquitous 5G broadband wireless service in America. Efficient use of spectrum is critical as we look to get more spectrum into the hands of wireless innovators while protecting federal users. To help achieve this goal, NTIA engineers have facilitated the creation of a new concept in flexible spectrum sharing, Dynamic Protection Areas (DPAs), to enable increased access to the 3.5 GHz Citizens Broadband Radio Service (CBRS) band.

On May 22, in response to a letter from NTIA, the FCC issued a waiver Order that allows each spectrum access system (SAS) administrator in the 3.5 GHz band to use DPAs. This action will allow more devices to operate in the band more quickly than anticipated, promoting efficient spectrum use and more investment.

Diverse Small Businesses Discuss FirstNet Opportunities at Matchmaking Event

May 16, 2018 by Maureen Lewis, Director, Minority Telecommunications Development, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

On May 9, 2018, the U.S. Commerce Department brought together more than 100 small businesses for matchmaking opportunities with AT&T and five first-tier vendors helping AT&T build FirstNet, a nationwide broadband network and related services for first responders. In March 2017, the Department entered into a 25-year contract with AT&T for constructing and operating FirstNet.

The matchmaking event attracted diverse small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans, minorities, and women, as well as firms that are part of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program. Commerce procurement officials from the Census Bureau, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and Enterprise Services shared information about upcoming federal contracts.

NTIA Gives 46 Grant Awards to States and Territories to Plan for FirstNet Deployment

May 02, 2018 by NTIA

NTIA is pleased to announce it has completed making 46 grant awards under the State and Local Implementation Grant Program (SLIGP) 2.0, which will help states and territories prepare for FirstNet’s buildout of the nationwide public safety broadband network. NTIA announced the initial awards on March 1, 2018, to 12 states, and continued making additional SLIGP 2.0 grants in March and April. 

The grants are an outgrowth of The Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act of 2012, which directed NTIA to establish a grant program to assist states and territories with planning for FirstNet, a nationwide wireless broadband network for public safety that that launched last year under the leadership of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Between July 2013 and June 2014, NTIA awarded $116.5 million in grants to 54 U.S. states and territories to consult with FirstNet and perform outreach to public safety stakeholders.

ISART 2018 to Examine Propagation Challenges with Ultra-Dense Wireless Systems

May 01, 2018 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

ISART 2018 brochure image

Registration is now open for the 17th International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART), which will take place July 24 to 26, 2018, in Broomfield, Colorado. David Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator, will deliver the opening keynote address. NTIA’s Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) and NIST’s Communications Technology Laboratory are co-sponsoring the event.

This year’s symposium – Path Lost: Navigating Propagation Challenges for Ultra-Dense Wireless Systems – will explore the current state of the art in radio propagation prediction and map the path forward to the next generation of foundational propagation models. Leading experts from government, academia and industry will explore the technical, economic, and regulatory impacts of network densification in response to the explosion in demand for wireless data.

Making the Case for Using Computer Simulations to Gauge Spectrum Interference

April 24, 2018 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

As demand for spectrum for commercial use continues to grow, policymakers are exploring spectrum sharing as a way to expand capacity while still fulfilling the needs of federal agencies. This model can work only if rules are designed to maximize the value of spectrum resources without compromising the quality and reliability of telecommunications.

To minimize the probability of interference, spectrum managers separate systems in distance and frequency. The amount of separation is determined by interference protection criteria (IPC), which can be estimated through analysis, measurement, or computer simulation.

Although the analytic method is fast it can also be highly inaccurate. Accurate and repeatable measurements may also be difficult to obtain. One reason is that IPC measurements are often hindered by restrictions on equipment availability. In some cases, spectrum managers need estimates for systems that have not been built yet, so measurements are not possible. In other cases, the systems can only be tested for a brief period of time to avoid service interruptions.

To overcome the limitations of measurement, NTIA’s Office of Spectrum Management and Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) have made significant investments in computer simulation capabilities. This has provided a tool to use when measurements are not possible, especially when trying to assess a multitude of spectrum sharing scenarios. ITS is NTIA’s spectrum engineering laboratory.

Celebrating the Nation’s Public Safety Telecommunicators

April 09, 2018 by David J. Redl, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator

April 8-14 marks this year’s National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week, when we take time to appreciate and thank the dedicated professionals who staff the thousands of 911 centers throughout the nation. These devoted public servants work quietly on the front lines of emergencies, serving as “the first of our first responders.”

National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week

We may take 911 calls for granted today, but it was only 50 years ago that the first emergency call was completed in Haleyville, Alabama. We’re now on the cusp of improving our 911 system by providing our highly trained professionals with the advanced tools they need to do their jobs in the 21st century.

Through our joint Implementation Coordination Office, later this year we will be rolling out a revamped 911 grant program to provide states and territories with federal funds to upgrade their 911 operations to keep pace with Next Generation communications technologies. 

Please join me this week in recognizing the men and women who work behind the scenes, often without recognition, to answer our 911 calls, dispatch our first responders, and protect our lives and property.

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