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Celebrating Collaboration in the Great Lakes State

October 21, 2010 by Greg Monroe, Grants, Development and Communications Specialist, Merit Network

Recently, Merit Network had the pleasure of welcoming state and federal officials to our headquarters. They joined us to celebrate the culmination of multiple BTOP awards that together will deliver the transformative power of broadband to communities throughout Michigan. The excitement we shared with the many stakeholders who participated in our grant announcement event in August is as strong today as it was when we first learned of our award. During the event, I could not help but think how incredibly gratifying it is to know that all the hard work put into the planning and application will soon become a reality.

For over 40 years, our organization has worked together with others to achieve the most for our members. It is this same spirit of collaboration that underscored the vision and efforts of so many that were the focus of Merit’s broadband grant announcement and this project going forward.

Our project, REACH-3MC will create over 2,000 miles of fiber-optic infrastructure that will serve all sectors of society. This will be accomplished through a unique public-private partnership that engages Merit, a non-profit, and eight commercial providers who will own strands of fiber over various segments of the network.

Broadband Stimulus Update from the Assistant Secretary

October 28, 2010 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Now that all the broadband stimulus grants have been awarded I’d like to spend a few moments discussing what we’ve accomplished and what lies ahead. In less than 20 months, NTIA built a multi-billion dollar grant program from the ground up. This is the largest grant program that NTIA has ever managed and is one of the largest ever managed at the Department of Commerce. We had to hire staff, build the information systems, develop the rules, perform due diligence on the proposals, and award over $4 billion in grants, all before this past September 30. At every step of the way, we solved the challenges that arose, we answered the skeptics who said we would never get the money out, and ended up with what I think is a very solid set of sustainable projects that will not only expand broadband access and adoption but will also lead to economic growth and job creation. These projects will also continue to pay dividends far into the future in the form of improved education and health care, heightened innovation, and long-term local, national, and global economic growth.

Let me summarize our portfolio of projects. We funded four types of projects: infrastructure, public computer centers, sustainable broadband adoption projects, and state broadband data and development initiatives. These projects reach every state and territory and will:

Report from the Field: Digital Summer Jobs for Chicago Youth

November 02, 2010 by Matthew Guilford of the City of Chicago

The SmartChicago Sustainable Broadband Adoption project is developing innovative approaches to drive broadband adoption in Chicago. The project is funded by BTOP, managed by Local Initiatives Support Corporation/Chicago, and is a part of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley’s Digital Excellence Initiative.

A major component of this sustainable broadband adoption project is to engage youth, not only as the next generation of broadband subscribers, but also as drivers of broadband adoption for their families. The Digital Youth Summer Jobs (DYSJ), a program made possible by the SmartChicago project, is providing technology-oriented employment and training to 120 underserved youth as well as outreach activities to 120 parents or caregivers.

DYSJ is already having an impact on Chicago’s future innovators. This summer, 60 youth from the Smart Communities program were placed in technology-oriented jobs at over 30 work sites. I connected with Raven, a rising high school senior who worked this summer at Columbia College in Chicago, to understand how the DYSJ program has impacted her engagement with technology and her career goals.

Chicago youth
Digital Youth Summer Jobs student participants learning about technology and digital media during their summer internship at Columbia College in Chicago.

 

Exploring the Digital Divide

November 30, 2010 by NTIA

NTIA and the Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) recently released a report that analyzes broadband Internet adoption and use across the United States. “Exploring the Digital Nation,” the new study, finds that although socio-economic factors like income and education are strongly associated with broadband Internet use, they are not the sole determinants of adoption. Even after accounting for socio-economic factors, significant gaps in broadband adoption persist along racial, ethnic, and geographic lines. For example, White households had higher broadband adoption rates than African American and Hispanic households, and urban residents were more likely than their rural counterparts to adopt broadband Internet, even after adjusting for socio-economic factors.

Americans who did not use the Internet at all – whether inside or outside the home – most commonly cited lack of interest or need as the primary reason. In contrast, those who lacked the Internet at home but who did use it elsewhere most commonly cited affordability as the reason they were not subscribers, as did those who only had dial-up Internet access at home.

BTOP: A Look back, a Look Ahead

December 14, 2010 by Tom Power, NTIA Chief of Staff

As we approach the end of the year, it is a fitting time to reflect on what we’ve accomplished with BTOP and the work that lies ahead. Today we’re issuing a report that provides an overview of BTOP grants, highlighting illustrative projects in each category – infrastructure, public computer centers, and sustainable broadband adoption initiatives – and discussing the benefits to various stakeholder groups, including schools, small businesses, people with disabilities, the unemployed, and seniors, to name a few.

Though we are proud of what we have achieved – quickly building a solid grant program from the ground up, performing thorough due diligence on an avalanche of applications, and awarding grants to more than 230 strong proposals – the projects we awarded are a testament to the hard work and ingenuity of grantees, many of whom worked with partners throughout their communities to create innovative solutions to their local broadband needs.

Tracking BTOP Project Progress

December 17, 2010 by Angela Simpson, Senior Policy Advisor

This week, NTIA posted the most recent quarterly reports of BTOP recipients. It’s terrific to see these projects really begin to take off – from public computer centers opening, to infrastructure project groundbreakings, to sustainable broadband adoption training beginning – the benefits are becoming more and more visible.

For example, South Dakota Network’s $21 million infrastructure project began construction at several sites already, and construction is being accelerated into 2011. Also, the North Florida Broadband Authority’s $30 million infrastructure project has taken off in the last quarter: despite initial delays, its technical work over the last few months has resulted in the project exceeding the reliability and capacity hoped for in its application – at lower cost to boot.

Michigan State University’s Round 1 Public Computer Center project is rolling into the home stretch – it is running ahead of schedule and will essentially be complete by the end of this month. The computer centers upgraded so far are showing higher usership than anticipated, which validates the University’s Round 2 award to extend the Round 1 project significantly.

Report from the Field: Advancing Public Safety Broadband Communications

December 30, 2010 by Lance Johnson, Program Officer

700-MHz Demonstration Stakeholder Meeting in Boulder

Earlier this month, representatives from each of the seven BTOP 700 MHz wireless broadband public safety projects spent time at the Department of Commerce Research Labs in Boulder learning about the most recent developments in LTE wireless broadband technology.

Approximately 300 stakeholders, who were interested in the new wireless broadband technology and how this commercial technology could be adapted by public safety using the 700 MHz broadband spectrum, attended the meeting. Attendees included representatives from state, local, and federal government agencies, equipment manufacturers, cellular service providers, and other stakeholder associations. It was one of the largest events ever held at the Boulder campus and included opening remarks by Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary Greg Schaffer and NTIA Deputy Administrator Anna Gomez.

Serving Those Who Serve

November 14, 2011 by Anthony Wilhelm, Associate Administrator of NTIA’s Office of Telecommunications and Information Applications

In honor of Veterans Day, we are highlighting resources that can help veterans make a successful transition to the civilian workforce, including projects funded by the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and State Broadband Initiative. These Recovery Act programs, overseen by NTIA, are not only expanding broadband access and adoption nationwide, but also offering tools for veterans and their family members who are seeking employment. For example:

Massachusetts Broadband Institute

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute is building a web portal for veterans and their families using funding from the State Broadband Initiative. The project is a collaboration with the Massachusetts Department of Veterans’ Services and the Home Base Program, a partnership between the Red Sox Foundation and Massachusetts General Hospital. The portal will give veterans and their family members one online destination to find links to federal, state, and local services and benefits, including resources on housing, education, and employment. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute, a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a public economic development agency, will also provide training to help veterans use the portal effectively.

New York State Department of Labor

Broadband Internet Adoption Moves Forward, but Digital Divide Still Persists

November 09, 2011 by

The Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a report today entitled “Exploring the Digital Nation:  Computer and Internet Use at Home.” This report investigates broadband Internet use in the United States and finds that disparities continue to exist in broadband Internet adoption among demographic and geographic groups. The report also delves into the reasons why households have not adopted broadband Internet, an important input into the design of policies to achieve a more digitally connected nation. 

We all know that the Internet increasingly plays a key role in our everyday lives, including applying for and getting today’s jobs. Broadband internet adoption has increased substantially in only a few years, rising to 68% of households in 2010 from only 51% of households three years earlier and from 64% in 2009, the last time ESA and NTIA looked at these issues.

Broadband Opportunities Reach Philadelphia

January 19, 2011 by Guest Arun Prabhakaran and Mary-Anne Smith Harris of the Urban Affairs Coalition

Freedom Rings Partnership Helps to Close Digital Divide

The Freedom Rings Partnership officially kicked off on January 17th, by sponsoring the signature project of the Greater Philadelphia Martin Luther King Day of Service – volunteers refurbished used computers to be distributed to the community, assembled digital literacy kits, and participated in a high-tech scavenger hunt called “Race to Connect.” Tom Power, NTIA Chief of Staff, joined Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President and CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition (UAC); John Fry, President of Drexel University; and Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter for this exciting event hosted at Girard College.

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