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How broadband is impacting jobs and the economy, health care, the environment and energy, public safety, civic engagement, and education
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Hiawatha Broadband CEO: How to Make Rural Gigabit Economics Work - Telecompetitor

Hiawatha Broadband CEO: How to Make Rural Gigabit Economics Work - Telecompetitor | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
A gigabit project from RS Fiber Cooperative and Hiawatha Broadband Communications set to kick off in Minnesota will focus on small towns and rural areas. Rural gigabit isn’t unusual, as Telecompetitor readers know. But while rural gigabit projects typically are undertaken by an incumbent service provider, this one is a complete overbuild.

HBC has been overbuilding underserved communities in Minnesota since 1999 and will operate the new gigabit network. In an interview, HBC President and CEO Dan Pecarina explained how HBC and RS Fiber Cooperative plan to make the new gigabit project economically feasible.

The RS/HBC Minnesota Gigabit Project
RS Fiber Cooperative is an entity dedicated to the new gigabit project, which will bring service to 10 towns and 17 townships across four counties in south central Minnesota. The project will be funded through two general obligation tax abatement bonds; through other federal, state and private sources; and through revenues that Pecarina expects to generate beginning this year.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

Rural and Gigabit Networks don't need to be contradictory, as Hiawatha Broadband demonstrates.

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BroadbandBreakfast.com: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Pokes Finger in Eye of Telecom Incumbents at Broadband Communities in Austin

BroadbandBreakfast.com: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler Pokes Finger in Eye of Telecom Incumbents at Broadband Communities in Austin | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
AUSTIN, April 14, 2015 - The Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission came to Broadband Communities Summit here to metaphorically poke his finger in the eye of the biggest incumbent communications companies. He cited this city as Exhibit A for his mantra of competition, competition, competition. And one day after the first of multiple legal challenges to the agency's network neutrality rules, Wheeler delivered a full-throated defense of those regulations. Wheeler also defended -- to repeated applause from the crowd -- a vigorous defense of municipalities and to communities' rights to offer broadband internet services.
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FCC's Rural Broadband Experimental Efforts Get 181 Applicants

FCC's Rural Broadband Experimental Efforts Get 181 Applicants | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Getting high-speed broadband services out to residents in rural parts of the United States is the focus of a series of experiments being conducted under the auspices of the FCC.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

A useful piece summarizing the state of the Rural Broadband Experiment.

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Broadband Infrastructure Case Studies Released – How Broadband Changes the Game

Broadband Infrastructure Case Studies Released – How Broadband Changes the Game | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Over the past five years through our national broadband grant program, NTIA has seen first-hand the economic and societal impact that broadband has on communities across the country. At the Broadband Communities conference in Austin, Texas this week, NTIA’s BroadbandUSA team will share our plans to leverage that expertise by providing communities with technical assistance and field-tested ideas.  I will be speaking along with my NTIA colleagues Doug Kinkoph and Anne Neville. 

An important component of our on-going work with communities is to build on the lessons learned from an independent evaluation of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) to make sound decisions going forward.  In 2010 NTIA hired ASR Analytics, LLC to conduct a comprehensive study on the societal and economic impacts of the program.  In advance of the Broadband Communities conference, NTIA is today releasing the final case studies from the evaluation.  The principal author of the study, Dr. Stephen Rhody, will present and discuss the findings. 

The reports released today are the final ASR case studies focusing on 12 of the 109 Comprehensive Community Infrastructure (CCI) projects NTIA funded through BTOP to build middle-mile networks in 45 states and U.S. territories. These grantees deployed more than 113,000 miles of fiber across the country. In the process, they connected or upgraded 25,300 community anchor institutions and signed more than 860 interconnection agreements with local service providers.

Earlier, NTIA released ASR’s overall impact study, which found that on average, in only two years, BTOP grant communities experienced an estimated two percent greater growth in broadband availability than non-grant communities. That growth is estimated to generate increased annual economic activity of between $5.17 billion and $21 billion. The additional broadband infrastructure could also be expected to create more than 22,000 long-term jobs and generate more than $1 billion in additional household income each year.  And community anchor institutions, like schools and libraries, served by BTOP infrastructure grantees in the sample experienced significantly increased speeds and lower costs. 

While these numbers are impressive, the value of the projects is yet to be fully realized. Their impact will be seen in how education, health care and economic development are changing on the ground in the communities served by the grants.  Students have faster, lower cost connections to broadband for online learning.  Businesses are expanding their operations and markets.  Medical specialists treat more people in less time, remotely. 

The case studies reflect a representative sample of CCI projects, taking into account the wide diversity of grantee types, technologies, partnerships, project sizes, geography, and target customers.  Project selection also considered construction schedules, so that projects could demonstrate results within the study’s time frame. To prepare the cases, ASR conducted more than a hundred interviews with grantees, partners, and network users, logging thousands of miles to visit the connected communities.

Here are just a few of the highlights.

Clearwave Communications: The Southern Illinois Online Nursing Initiative (SIONI), a part-time online nursing program that addresses the shortage of nurses in southern Illinois, can now provide more online classes through community colleges connected by Clearwave’s fiber, keeping more nurses in the region. 
SDN Communications: Students at Arlington High School in South Dakota no longer encounter network congestion when using the Digital Dakota Network (DDN), which lets schools share courses. Arlington students can take foreign language classes, otherwise unavailable, during school hours rather than after school or at home. The SDN Network also offers schools speeds up to 1 Gbps, far greater than the state’s current goal of 50 Mbps per school and the 3 Mbps that Arlington had before BTOP. 
Merit Network: North Country Community Mental Health (NCCMH), which serves the mental health needs of Michigan’s rural residents across the northern part of the Lower Peninsula, can now expand its telepsychiatry program, allowing psychiatrists to consult directly with primary health care providers and eliminating long drives to remote areas. 
Zayo Group:  Sitco, one of the largest fixed wireless Internet providers in Indiana, has leveraged Zayo’s open access network to upgrade its facilities and offer its residential and business customers significantly higher speeds without increasing prices. It also offers value-added fiber services to enterprise customers and has hired additional staff.
Massachusetts Technology Park Corporation (MTC): This state-funded agency of Massachusetts implemented an innovative public-private partnership model for its network, which connects 123 towns and over 1,200 community anchor institutions in rural western Massachusetts. MTC offers wholesale access to Internet service providers, who in turn offer retail Internet services. A commercial entity operates the network and negotiates with the retail service providers. This neutral party model has resulted in 19 signed interconnection agreements, with dozens more anticipated. 
In sum, these cases reflect a myriad of individual stories to illustrate how affordable, high-speed, open access networks can foster economic development, expand education and health services, promote choice and competition, and generate tremendous cost savings.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

The final report from the NTIA, released today, April 13, 2015, on the broadband infrastructure game, and the benefit that broadband has on economic development.

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US Internet's fiber spreads across south Minneapolis

US Internet's fiber spreads across south Minneapolis | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
The spring thaw shot new energy into the battle for your Internet dollar.

Workers drilled holes for US Internet’s fiber optic lines in Lowry Hill. White boxes showed up in Minneapolis’ Como neighborhood. CenturyLink’s fiber plans sent city inspectors in Minneapolis and St. Paul running around issuing permits for its new 1-gigabit service.

The average home in the Twin Cities area accesses the Internet at 27 megabits per second. Comcast, the cable TV giant, dominates the market, followed by CenturyLink, which descended from the phone system legacy of names like Northwestern Bell and U.S. West.

Over the last few years, Minnetonka-based US Internet, a provider of business and wireless services, moved into residential Internet by laying fiber along a few streets in south Minneapolis. The company in a portion of Minneapolis offers Internet access at less than half its competitors’ prices -- anywhere from 25 megabits per second to 10 gigabits (see chart).

Now, it’s planning an expansion that will test whether a local, private business can succeed in competition with the giants of the telecom industry. Its effort could drive down the prices that people in the Twin Cities pay for data while renewing a debate between market-driven and regulated access to it.

“Where they are today, their takeup rates have been excellent,” Otto Doll, the city of Minneapolis chief information officer, said of US Internet. “Most definitely I think they can challenge when it comes to Internet.”

This will be a pivotal year for US Internet, which expects to spend several hundred million dollars over many years to build a fiber optic network across the Twin Cities. This summer, the firm’s crews plan to head east and bury fiber in five neighborhoods south of Powderhorn Park.

“Our first goal is to get under 35W and get on to the other side,” said Travis Carter, US Internet’s chief of operations. “My hope is that we’ll be kissing the river by the end of next summer.”
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

A story about the spread of fiber across Minnesota.

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How Connecticut set itself up to be the first gigabit state

How Connecticut set itself up to be the first gigabit state | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
But it looks like the third smallest state in the country is on its way to becoming the first to offer ubiquitous 1-Gigabit internet to its residents. The website EfficientGov.com has a pretty comprehensive breakdown on the project: 46 municipalities that make up about half of the state's population have agreed to endorse a plan for public/private partnerships to expand 1-Gig broadband internet access.

The "pubic/private partnerships" part of the plan likely makes it more achievable. In other areas, attempts at municipal-run broadband projects have created mountains of debt in their worst cases and have led to heated legislative battles in their best.

Chattanooga, Tennessee, is a good example of how difficult municipal broadband can be. The city's broadband is among the fastest in the country, and its network was built and operated by the city after it had difficulty attracting investment from private ISPs. When the city looked to expand its 1-Gig service to other regions, state lawmakers imposed strict regulations, ultimately culminating in the state of Tennessee filing a lawsuit against the FCC late last month.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

Important observations about Connecticut's efforts to enhance #broadband connectivity with a #Gigabit Network throughout their state. In truth, Utah is also close to what is effectively an all-state Gigabit network, at least in the populated areas: See http://www.utahbreakfast.com/news/2015/4/8/utah-and-broadband-breakfast-club-announce-luncheon-event-and-webcast-on-friday-april-24

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NSF Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs) – Research Development

Program Information National Science Foundation: Big Data Regional Innovation Hubs (BD Hubs), Accelerating the Big Data Innovation Ecosystem FOCUS: This solicitation is the first of a multi-phase process meant to develop a National Network of BD Hubs.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

There will be an event in Salt Lake City on Friday, April 10, about the value of "big data" for the region.

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Expanding the Benefits of Broadband in Mississippi

Expanding the Benefits of Broadband in Mississippi | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Expanding the Benefits of Broadband in Mississippi
February 11, 2015 by NTIA
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s BroadbandUSA team convened a productive workshop in Jackson, Miss., last week to explore ways to close the digital divide in a state that continues to expand broadband connectivity and adoption.

The event was the second in a series of regional workshops that NTIA is hosting across the country as part of its new BroadbandUSA program, which is helping communities improve local broadband capacity and utilization.

The new initiative – highlighted by President Obama last month – builds on lessons learned and best practices from NTIA’s successful broadband grant programs, which invested more than $4 billion in network infrastructure, public computer centers, digital literacy training and broadband mapping. BroadbandUSA provides resources – including technical assistance, toolkits and guides – to help communities assess local broadband needs, engage stakeholders, explore business models, evaluate financing options and attract private-sector investment.

The Mississippi workshop - presented in cooperation with the non-profit Connect MS and the Mississippi Economic Development Council – drew panelists and attendees from across the Gulf Region. But much of the focus was on Mississippi, which in 2009 created a statewide taskforce to coordinate efforts on broadband policy.

In 2010, the state received NTIA funding to map broadband availability and establish a non-profit public-private partnership, the Mississippi Broadband Connect Coalition, to develop a plan to close the state’s broadband gaps. Connect MS is now continuing that work.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

How broadband mapping is helping to chart broadband progress.

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Utah and Broadband Breakfast Club Announce Luncheon Event and Webcast on Friday, April 24

Utah and Broadband Breakfast Club Announce Luncheon Event and Webcast on Friday, April 24 | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
SALT LAKE CITY, April 8, 2015 - The Utah Breakfast Club, in collaboration with the well-established Broadband Breakfast Club of Washington, D.C., on Wednesday announced a special luncheon event on Gigabit Networks in Utah that will take place on Friday, April 24, 2015.

The luncheon event will take place at the Utah State Capitol, in the regular location of the monthly Utah Breakfast Club. This event will also be viewable as a FREE LIVE WEBCAST beginning at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT/Noon MT/11 a.m. PT.

Those who seek to attend in person may register to attend this interactive discussion for. Members of the Utah Breakfast Club pay $15, plus registration fee. Nonmembers pay $25, plus registration fee. (Individuals may obtain a NO CHARGE three month trial membership of the Utah Breakfast Club.) Lunch will be served at the Utah State Capitol beginning at 11:30 a.m. MT, with the program and webcast beginning promptly at 2 p.m. ET/Noon MT.

"Google's decision to bring fiber to Salt Lake City adds the the strong base of fiber-optic deployment with Utah," said Drew Clark, founder of the Utah Breakfast Club and the Broadband Breakfast Club. "With cities and states across the country now seeking to build Gigabit networks, this discussion about GigUtah will be of great interest throughout the nation."

The panel discussion and FREE LIVE WEBCAST will explore these topics:

Google has captivated the enthusiasm of internet users -- and the attention of economic development professionals -- by offering Gigabit Network service in selected cities across the country.

In announcing in late March that Google Fiber will expand to Salt Lake City (its eighth metropolitan area nationwide), the broadband world turned its envying eyes on Utah. With Google Fiber in Provo and now Salt Lake -- and with Gigabit Networks available in the 11 cities served by the Utah Telecommunications Open Infrastructure Agency, or UTOPIA -- Utah is poised to be the first state where a substantial portion of its residents have access to the fastest-possible broadband internet services.

What does Google's investments say about the economic health and technology-savvy nature of Utah? What do cities and citizens get from Google Fiber that they haven't gotten from traditional telecom companies? And, for cities and states seeking to get a Gig, what are the best options to build and enhance Gigabit Networks?

CONFIRMED Panelists:

Devin Baer, Head of Fiber Business, Salt Lake, Google
Paul Cutler, Mayor, City of Centerville, Utah
Justin Jones, Vice President, Public Policy and Communications, Salt Lake Chamber
David Shaw, Shareholder, Kirton McConkie; Chair, Government and Utilities Practice Group
Moderated by Drew Clark, Of Counsel, Kirton McConkie; Founder, Utah Breakfast Club
For questions about the event, please contact Drew Clark at drew@broadbandcensus.com.
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Thurman, N.Y.'s Rural 'White Space' Wireless Network Debuts; Speed, Capacity Blows DSL and Satellite Away • Stop the Cap!

Thurman, N.Y.'s Rural 'White Space' Wireless Network Debuts; Speed, Capacity Blows DSL and Satellite Away • Stop the Cap! | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
A dozen homes in the middle of the Adirondacks now have access to Internet speeds far faster than what Verizon and Frontier DSL can deliver and without the usage caps or speed throttling common with satellite Internet access.

Thurman, N.Y.’s public-private “white space” wireless network survived months of political wrangling, debate, and even intentional signal interference created by someone intent on disrupting the project. For a community that some maps depict with zero residents, the 1,200 people of Thurman are now more known than ever, winning national attention for one of the first next generation rural wireless networks to use unused space on the UHF dial to provide Internet access.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

An interesting investigation into providing a way to offer wireless signals; many issues remain about the viability of such "white spaces," however.

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Setting the record straight on a net neutrality fact check

Setting the record straight on a net neutrality fact check | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
In January, the Fact Checker was critical of claims by opponents of a then-pending Federal Communications Commission rule change on Internet regulation. The FCC had been considering changing its regulations to “reclassify” broadband providers as a public utility, like water, telephone or electricity. Proponents of this change said doing so would give equal access to the Internet, at no additional cost. Opponents argued it would pass on fees and taxes to consumers. The buzz term for this change is “net neutrality,” and there is still a lot of debate over its potential impacts.

The Fact Checker awarded Three Pinocchios to widely-cited claims that the FCC reclassification would cost $15 billion a year in new taxes and fees. The figure originated from a December 2014 report by the left-leaning Progressive Policy Institute, which calculated the worst-case scenario of all possible local and state telecommunications fees and taxes that could be levied on Internet services. After the report was published, Congress renewed the Internet Tax Freedom Act (ITFA), which prohibits state and local governments from levying new taxes on Internet access. So researchers published an update with state and local telecom fees, and modified the figure to $11 billion. It was noted in a footnote of a follow-up an article and was not readily available to average readers not following the debate. 
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

You would think that the Washington Post would be a little bit clearer!

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Congress considers Patriot Act repeal as FCC commissioner moves to block net neutrality | ExtremeTech

Congress considers Patriot Act repeal as FCC commissioner moves to block net neutrality | ExtremeTech | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Congress members in the House of Representatives have proposed a bill that would obviate the Patriot Act and end the NSA's bulk data collection. Meanwhile, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has asked the government to refuse to fund the FCC in order to block net neutrality.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

The hot potato around Net Neutrality continues in Congress.

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Salt Lake City becomes latest Google Fiber city

Salt Lake City becomes latest Google Fiber city | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it

"Utah's capital is officially a Google Fiber city.

 

"Google confirmed Tuesday it had picked Salt Lake City for its ultra-fast Internet and TV services, promising to make an advanced fiber-optic grid available to residential and business customers citywide within just a few years.

 

"We could not be more excited to have Google Fiber coming," Mayor Ralph Becker said. "This leap in speeds will open up an entirely new universe of exciting possibilities for Salt Lake City residents."

 

"The Mountain View, Calif., company's announcement caps a yearlong market and technical study of the city as a potential locale for a Google-built network delivering gigabit-per-second access to users.

 

"Though customer hookups may be more than a year away, pending design and construction, the prospect already has city officials glowing about Google Fiber's broad potential.

 

At a jubilant midmorning news conference, city leaders joined company executives in saying Google's announcement signals a new future, with widely available, affordable and lightning-fast Web access spurring innovation, creativity, collaboration and prosperity.

"We've seen firsthand how speedy Internet can reshape communities, driving economic growth, emerging start-up scenes and new ways of using technology to improve lives," said Devin Baer, Google's associate city manager for Salt Lake City.

"Salt Lake City is the perfect place," Baer said, "to show us what's possible with gigabit speeds."

Begun as an experiment in 2010, Google Fiber today is well established in Kansas City; Austin, Texas; and Provo. After Google's January announcement that four Southeastern metro areas would get Google Fiber, Salt Lake City becomes the eighth U.S. locale in five years targeted for a fiber-optic network build-out by the $365 billion company.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

With Google Fiber in Salt Lake City, Google Fiber in Provo, and UTOPIA offering service in West Valley City, Murray, Lindon, Orem, and many other cities in the Salt Lake and Utah Valleys, the Wasatch Front truly is ground zero for fiber-to-the-home deployments in the United States.

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See Which Cities Might Get Faster, Cheaper Internet Soon

See Which Cities Might Get Faster, Cheaper Internet Soon | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Google's high-speed Internet is causing other ISPs to offer faster, cheaper service
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

Google clearly having an impact on helping get better broadband throughout the United States. This article by TIME lays out a few of the specifics.

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BroadbandBreakfast.com: Better Broadband for Rural America Means Looking Beyond Tradition: Join Us at the Rural Telecommunications Congress Today

BroadbandBreakfast.com: Better Broadband for Rural America Means Looking Beyond Tradition: Join Us at the Rural Telecommunications Congress Today | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
AUSTIN, April 14, 2015 - The Rural Telecommunications Congress portion of the Broadband Communities Summit opens here Tuesday with a series of conference sessions focused on looking beyond conventional rural telecom. With a theme of Connecting Communities Across the Countryside of Rural America, our conference sessions on Tuesday include a discussion of the State Broadband Initiative and its impact on rural America, and a robust panel on the companies and technologies that will broadband the life-giving broadband to rural America. The RTC sessions planning for Wednesday including a summary of the lessons learned from successful broadband deployments, Broadband and the Farm, and the impact of the internet of things on rural communities -- plus important insight on telemedicine-based health and education programs.
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FCC’s $100 Million Experiment: Expanding Broadband to Rural America

FCC’s $100 Million Experiment: Expanding Broadband to Rural America | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
As early as next spring, telecommunications companies could launch broadband experiments under a $100 million, 10-year program that is dedicated to expanding broadband services to rural America.

An estimated 15 million Americans lack access to basic residential broadband experiments, according to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. In a statement this summer, Wheeler characterized the experiments as the “first time the Commission will attempt to use the tool of competition to bring broadband to rural America."

Although the funding could help close the digital divide in the next few years, assessing whether the broadband experiments are successful and economically sustainable for network providers will require more time, according to a representative of a rural broadband association.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

A useful background article on the impact of the Rural Broadband Experiment.

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News This Week - Caribbean Business

News This Week - Caribbean Business | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
In mid-February, the Puerto Rico Broadband Taskforce, a public-private partnership, unveiled the Gigabit Island Plan (GIP), a document of nearly 100 pages that outlines a strategy to significantly increase average broadband speed and use on the island among residents and businesses.

The implications of improving local broadband speed go much further than just getting Netflix streaming quicker. For public officials, the plan's successful implementation may give Puerto Rico the economic injection and job creation engine it needs, to the tune of $2 billion in economic activity and the creation of about 15,000 jobs, according to unofficial estimates.

The plan focuses on setting up a network of fiber-optic cables, which can transmit data at blazing fast speed. While telecommunications providers have used such cables in their own networks for years, connecting them directly to households and businesses—known as fiber-to the- home—has been almost nonexistent.

As a result, broadband speed for the island's consumer market top at around 100 megabits per second. Fiber-optic connectivity, on the other hand, can reach a speed of one gigabit per second; a gigabit equals about 1,000 megabits.

The GIP follows efforts that have helped turn Singapore into an economic powerhouse in almost record time. Several cities across the U.S. mainland—among them Kansas City, Mo.; Cedar Falls, Iowa; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Cleveland; and Urbana- Champaign, Ill.—have successfully adopted similar initiatives.

These so-called "gigabit communities," developed partly by the public sector and private players such as Google, have yielded benefits extending far beyond those of consumers. According to a Washington Post article published last September, U.S. cities with gigabit fiber connections report 1.1% higher per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) than cities lacking such internet speed.

Moreover, President Barack Obama's administration recently renewed its push toward establishing additional gigabit communities throughout the country, with Obama going as far as visiting Chattanooga and Cedar Falls in January to launch a national community-broadband initiative.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

Just don't confuse it with Gilligan's Island!

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NTIA Announces BroadbandUSA Effort to Assist Communities with Broadband Plans

NTIA Announces BroadbandUSA Effort to Assist Communities with Broadband Plans | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Over the past five years, we at NTIA have seen first-hand through our broadband grant program the power of broadband to transform lives and impact communities.  Broadband has become a cornerstone of economic growth, providing Americans the tools they need to participate in the rapidly growing digital economy.

NTIA invested more than $4 billion in grants through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program to build network infrastructure, establish public computer centers, and develop digital literacy training to expand broadband adoption.  Through those projects, we’ve made significant progress.  Our grantees have built or upgraded more than 113,000 miles of fiber and connected nearly 25,000 community anchor institutions, such as schools and libraries.  Our grantees also have established or upgraded 3,000 public computer centers, trained more than four million people and helped roughly 735,000 households sign up for broadband.  An independent study released by NTIA today shows that these grants are projected to increase economic output by as much as $21 billion annually.

But there’s more work to be done. Investing in broadband is a matter of basic equity.  Americans who do not have access to the Internet are increasingly cut off from job opportunities, educational resources, healthcare information and even government services.  Communities that do not have high-speed infrastructure are increasingly at a disadvantage in attracting new businesses and new jobs and competing in today’s knowledge-based economy. Since 2009, broadband adoption has increased more than 12 percent in the United States and stands at 72 percent according to our latest reported data.  That is a healthy growth rate but it still means that almost a quarter of U.S. households are not online at home.  

President Obama today is announcing a number of additional steps to help more Americans get access to fast, affordable and reliable broadband. And at NTIA, rest assured that we will remain at the forefront of federal efforts to ensure that all Americans share in the promise and potential of the digital economy.  We’ve learned about what works and we’ve heard what communities need.  And we’re eager to share the knowledge and expertise we’ve accumulated over the last few years.  Today I’m happy to unveil our BroadbandUSA initiative aimed at finding new ways to assist communities seeking to ensure their citizens have the broadband capacity they need to advance economic development, education, health care, and public safety. 

As part of BroadbandUSA, we will share the lessons learned and best practices developed by companies, state and local governments, and other organizations that received our grants.  We will use everything from toolkits and training programs, to webinars and workshops, to provide technical assistance, funding leads and basic guidance to communities as they grow their broadband capacity and use.  

We are also releasing today a new Public Private Partnership primer, which provides a basic introduction to a variety of partnership models for communities considering new broadband projects.  The primer provides a high-level overview of steps to establish partnerships, and presents case studies of successful public-private broadband partnerships.

Building on the primer, we are now putting together a toolkit to assist communities that want to increase the level of broadband infrastructure and adoption in their areas.  This guide will provide solid and field-tested advice on how to establish effective partnerships, develop useful applications and build projects that will sustain themselves for years to come.  It will also include ideas targeting small business.

Next month, we’ll hold our third in a series of regional broadband workshops in Jackson, Mississippi.  The workshops are designed bring together stakeholders – including local, state and federal officials, community leaders, industry executives, private foundations and broadband advocates – to discuss the challenges and solutions for communities seeking to expand broadband.  We intend to host a series of additional broadband workshops around the country throughout the year.

Another way we are helping communities is through our broadband adoption toolkit, published in 2013, that serves as a reference manual for municipalities and other organizations that want to increase the level of adoption in their communities.  The toolkit contains clear, sensible advice, as well as lots of practical ideas and tips, for bringing all sorts of people online – from senior citizens who may never have touched a mouse before to minority populations who might not even speak English.

The bottom line is that we have made important strides in expanding broadband access and adoption but there is still work to be done.  And NTIA will be leading the charge.

For more information on BroadbandUSA, visit www.ntia.doc.gov/broadbandusa or email BroadbandUSA@ntia.doc.gov.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

An extremely important blog post and report, and which might have been overlooked in the coverage of President Obama's community-based broadband initiative, at http://broadbandbreakfast.com/2015/01/white-house-supports-growing-national-movement-of-local-leaders-for-gigabit-networks/

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U.S. Internet users pay more and have fewer choices than Europeans

U.S. Internet users pay more and have fewer choices than Europeans | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
More than a quarter of Americans cannot go online at home to check their children’s grades at school, apply for jobs, pay bills or research health issues. They don’t have what has become a crucial service for participation in modern society: Internet service at home.

The proportion of households with Internet service had been rising steadily for decades, according to the Pew Research Center, until the past few years when the adoption rate slowed.

One reason? The high cost of broadband and the lack of competition that leads to those high prices.

A Center for Public Integrity analysis of Internet prices in five U.S. cities and five comparable French cities found that prices in the U.S. were as much as 3 1/2 times higher than those in France for similar service. The analysis shows that consumers in France have a choice between a far greater number of providers — seven on average — than those in the U.S., where most residents can get service from no more than two companies. The Center’s analysis echoes the findings of several studies on Internet pricing disparities worldwide.

By mapping the service areas of U.S. providers,  The Center for Public Integrity also found that telecommunications companies appear to carve up territory to avoid competing with more than one other provider.

Higher broadband prices don’t just mean fewer dollars in Americans’ wallets at the end of every month. They make it difficult for low- to middle-income families to afford fast Internet service, which has become a necessity for job training, education, health care.

According to data in a report by the U.S. National Technology and Information Administration, more than 8 percent of U.S. households say they cannot afford broadband. President Barack Obama this year called for faster, more affordable Internet service for everyone.

“Just like we today expect clean running water, sewage and electricity as essential, so is broadband necessary to partake in society, to interact with government, to learn, to inform and be informed, to be a fully functioning member of society,” said Rudolf van der Berg, a telecommunications and broadband policy analyst who studies policy at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Many studies have been conducted looking at price and competition. The Center’s research isn’t as comprehensive. Rather, it’s a snapshot meant to show the state of broadband for some American cities. The high prices and lack of competition and in towns like these — and there are many — add to a growing divide between the connected and unconnected. And for the unconnected, the increasing gap will be measured in fewer economic opportunities, less access to healthcare and other inequities.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

An excellent, and extremely thorough report of broadband data, drawing upon the National Broadband Map. What a difference it makes to have this kind of data available now -- we didn't have that 8 years ago when the Center for Public Integrity was last involved in a broadband dispute over public internet information.

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ASR Analytics Reports and Case Studies | NTIA

ASR Analytics Reports and Case Studies | NTIA | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
January 13, 2015
In 2010, after a competitive procurement, NTIA awarded a contract to research firm ASR Analytics, LLC to conduct an independent analysis of the social and economic impacts of the $4 billion in Recovery Act grants awarded under the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).  ASR performed an extensive analysis of the quarterly and annual reports from more than 200 grantees over a four-year period, and conducted 27 detailed case studies of individual BTOP projects.  The case studies were based on site visits that included interviews, observations and data collection.  The products of the study include a Final Report, two Interim Reports, the case study documents and a Short Term Economic impacts Report.  The study methodology and datasets are also publicly available.  For more information, email broadbandusa@ntia.doc.gov.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

I just ran across this much-touted report from ASR analytics. Does anyone have any feedback about it?

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CenturyLink's Valerie Dodd: 'We're fighting hard for broadband' - Albuquerque Business First

CenturyLink's Valerie Dodd: 'We're fighting hard for broadband' - Albuquerque Business First | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
On Wednesday, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission will take up the next step in partially deregulating CenturyLink in New Mexico.
The incumbent phone company filed a petition more than a year ago with the PRC asking that it be regulated as a mid-sized carrier, instead of a giant one, as its customer base is now fewer than 375,000 in New Mexico. The move would allow the state to regulate CenturyLink like it does WindStream and other mid-sized carriers, and reduce the regulatory burden on the state’s largest phone company. A yea vote on Wednesday by the five-member commission wouldn’t make the change official, but it would move the process one step further along.
“That should give us latitude, and that will give us help. We’re fighting hard for broadband,” said Valerie Dodd, the vice president for operations in New Mexico. “The less regulated we are, the more we can invest in broadband.”
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

I'm a little unclear on what, exactly, the 'deregulatory' measure is that CenturyLink is seeking.

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On Net Neutrality, Six Ways The FCC's Public Utility Order Will Lose In Court

On Net Neutrality, Six Ways The FCC's Public Utility Order Will Lose In Court | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Now that the festivities celebrating the FCC’s “historic” Open Internet order have quieted down, the hangover is settling in for a long stay. The FCC is preparing to publish the new rules, along with dozens of other changes to its public utility regulations that go with its radical new Internet governance plan, perhaps as early as this week.

That action will start the 60-day clock for the filing of what promises to be a flurry of lawsuits challenging the order. Expect the federal courts to take at least a year to rule on any of them, and perhaps as long as three years before the final fate of the order is known if the case winds up, as it could, back at the U.S. Supreme Court.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

Some insights on the many reasons that the FCC's net neutrality order is vulnerable.

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Expanding Trade in Medical Care through Telemedicine

Expanding Trade in Medical Care through Telemedicine | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Expanding Trade in Medical Care through Telemedicine

By Simon Lester
March 24, 2015
The Internet revolution has been disrupting traditional industries for years by enabling online provision of various services. The first industries to convert have been media services that can be digitized, such as journalism, music, and videos. But less obvious candidates for online provision are emerging. One of these is telemedicine, which is the delivery of health care services from one site to another via electronic communications.

Telemedicine is already being used in various ways to provide care to those who could not otherwise receive it. Among others, those benefiting are people in countries with a shortage of doctors, people in rural areas for whom access to medical facilities is difficult, and people who need immediate assistance in an emergency. Recently, online medical care has been expanding to the mainstream, as more routine services are being carried out online.

As medical treatment moves online, the potential for treating patients across borders grows. In the United States, medical treatment has typically been segregated along state lines. With the ease of access between patients and doctors in different jurisdictions, however, this is beginning to change. Regulations will need to be adjusted to allow interstate trade so that consumers can reap the benefits.

Similarly, at the international level, governments should adapt their national regulations to allow trade in these services. This can be done in part through a number of ongoing trade negotiations that address barriers to trade in services, including the Trans Pacific Partnership, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, and the Trade in Services Agreement negotiation. By using these trade negotiations to remove barriers and promote more international trade in medical services, governments can bring new competitive forces to a sector that has traditionally been characterized by an oligopolistic structure.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

This is where things need to go - expanding trade in services, with health care being at the forefront!

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New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast's Incompetence, Lack Of Competition

New Homeowner Has To Sell House Because Of Comcast's Incompetence, Lack Of Competition | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
Only months after moving into his new home in Washington state, Consumerist reader Seth is already looking to sell his house. He didn't lose his job or discover that the property is haunted. No, Se...
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A scary story about broadband availability ... or the lack thereof.

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What, exactly, does a digital service team do? -- FCW

What, exactly, does a digital service team do? -- FCW | BroadbandPolicy | Scoop.it
The White House raised eyebrows with its fiscal 2016 budget request to expand the U.S. Digital Service into most major agencies. The $105 million plan, if fully funded by Congress, would scatter some 500 technology specialists across government. 

The immediate question, of course, was obvious: What, exactly, would this army of agile techies actually do?

Mike Kruger, the Commerce Department's director of digital engagement, sketched out his agency's digital service vision at BMC's recent federal IT conference in Washington, D.C. The idea of digital services, he said, "has gone from [basically] zero 18 months ago to front and center." And while full-scale funding is far from guaranteed, Kruger said agencies can begin planning now for what digital services can -- and can't -- do for them.
BroadbandBreakfast's insight:

This is an interesting concept. Like most things digital out of the Obama administration, it is at least intriguing....

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