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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.

The Importance of Trust on the Internet

January 28, 2011 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

The rapid growth of the Internet economy has provided educational, economic, and social benefits to consumers and businesses. But with these growing benefits comes growing unease about how consumer's personal information on the Internet is collected, used, and protected.

Preserving consumer trust is essential to the sustainability and continued growth of the Internet economy. Data privacy day provides an opportunity to reflect on the importance of privacy policies that promote online trust and broadband use.

Whether making purchases online, communicating with family members, or conducting business - consumers must know that they have control over their personal information. As innovative new applications and services are developed, it is important that users know that their information is safe and that providers have clear rules about how to respect individual privacy.

As more and more personal data is collected on the Internet, policy makers need to ensure the consumer trust that is an essential foundation of the digital economy and broadband use.

Report from Michigan: Building Our Information Economy

February 01, 2011 by Dr. Kurt DeMaagd of Michigan State University

In 2010, I helped to lead three Michigan State University projects that received BTOP broadband stimulus awards to increase computer access and broadband access throughout Michigan. These three projects will expand broadband access in library computer centers in rural areas, create additional public computer centers in Michigan’s core urban areas, and stimulate broadband adoption by expanding knowledge and access to broadband in urban areas of Michigan. Now more than ever, our state needs to focus on its economic growth. These projects are providing that positive change, and helping transform our state to participate in the information economy.

Building a Competitive Nation with Empowered and Engaged Latino Communities

February 11, 2011 by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information Anna M. Gomez

On Wednesday I spoke at a League of United Latin American Citizens conference about how BTOP is expanding broadband access and adoption in the Latino community. Though it’s been roughly 15 years since the “digital divide” gained national attention, the issue remains a serious one for Latinos. In fact, NTIA’s Digital Nation Report shows that even after adjusting for income and other socioeconomic characteristics, Latino households lag White households in broadband adoption by 14 percentage points.

This issue is growing in importance as computer skills and high-speed Internet access are increasingly vital to full economic and civic participation in American society. In terms of employment, for example, a recent study shows that between 1998 and 2008, the number of domestic IT jobs grew by 26 percent, four times faster than U.S. employment as a whole. By 2018, IT employment is expected to grow by another 22 percent.

LULAC is on the front lines of addressing the Latino broadband gap through its network of technology centers and its partnership with BTOP grantee One Economy, which is conducting a comprehensive digital literacy program in 50 cities and towns. LULAC is helping One Economy bring its Digital Connectors program to Latino communities in need, providing technology training for students who will in turn serve as community ambassadors of broadband opportunities.

NTIA Launches National Broadband Map

February 17, 2011 by NTIA State Broadband Data and Development Program Director Anne Neville

Today we launched the first-ever public, searchable nationwide map of broadband access.

The National Broadband Map is an unprecedented project created by NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, and in partnership with each state, territory and the District of Columbia. The map was created at the direction of Congress, which recognized that economic opportunities are driven by access to 21st century infrastructure.

With funding from NTIA’s State Broadband Data & Development Program, state partners have gathered and worked to validate broadband data from thousands of providers across the country. Together, a dataset and website were developed that includes more than 25 million searchable records displaying where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers. Whether you are a consumer seeking more information on the broadband options available to you, a researcher or policymaker working to spur greater broadband deployment, a local official aiming to attract investment in your community, or an application developer with innovative ideas, the National Broadband Map can help. And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for on the map itself, you can download the entire dataset.

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