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Author: Beverly Burmeister

Member Since: 2010-05-10 18:18:35

Posts by Beverly Burmeister:

Indiana Legislature Passes Public Access Bill

March 26th, 2012 by

The 2012 lndiana legislative session is now completed. The Republican majority in the legislature mainly focused on their hot agenda items, including successfully passing Right to Work legislation. However, they did pass a bill to improve access to information by putting some teeth into requests for access to public records.

HB1003 Public Access Issues attempts to assure access by the public to meetings conducted electronically, and also assesses a fine to public officials who deny requests for access to public records. Citizens will not be denied access to these records if:

  • They have contacted the state public access counselor
  • The public access counselor has issued an advisory opinion that instructs the agency to allow access to the public record.

This issue has been before the legislature in various forms for several years without passage. This is the first time that personal penalties will be imposed for breaking the law. Hopefully, this will strengthen open records and open meeting laws already on the books.

F.C.C and Private Providers Make Broadband More Accessible to Low Income Families

November 14th, 2011 by

As part of the broadband adoption initiative recently announces by the F.C.C, most of the big cable companies have committed to providing broadband access to low income families for $9.99 month. Eligibility is limited to households that have a child enrolled in the national school lunch program. Other companies will supply refurbished computers for $150, as well as software. The program is expected to begin in the spring.

Broadband Adoption Gap

October 17th, 2011 by

On this blog, we have discussed the National Broadband Plan which, among other things, is attempting to address the issue of the approximately 20 million people in the United States who still do not have access to high-speed internet.

Believing that broadband adoption is key to America’s competitiveness in jobs and education, the FFC is also addressing the fact that approximately 80 million who could have access to high-speed internet have not adopted it.

Studies suggest that the main reasons people to not have broadband are cost of computers and broadband service, not knowing how to use computer, and not understanding why the internet is relevant to them.

On October 12, 2011, FCC Chairman Genachowski announced a plan to close the “broadband adoption gap” with three initiatives:

1) a Digital Literacy Corps to enable thousands more public libraries to hold in-person, basic digital literacy classes and allow schools to do the same after school hours (teaching Americans how to search, use e-mail, utilize parental controls, upload a resume, etc.).

2) Private sector companies and non-profit, grassroots groups will offer basic and advanced digital literacy training

3) a new non-profit Connect to Compete will help facilitate these initiatives.

Read the articles from USA Today and New York Times about the initiative.

FCC Proposes Expanding Broadband to Underserved

February 9th, 2011 by

I have been following with interest the FCC Broadband Plan, funded by the government stimulus program. Yesterday FFC chairman, Julius Genachowski, proposed converting the Universal Service Fund (USF) from subsidizing rural telephone service into one which helps to bring broadband service to under-served rural areas.  He observed that the communications landscape has fundamentally changed since the USF “helped connect virtually every American to the communications grid,” and brought basic telephone service to places where there was no economic case for service.  Currently, although broadband is vital for our economic future and global competitiveness, roughly one-third of Americans still aren’t online, and up to 24 million can’t get broadband due to lack of infrastructure.  Genachowski states the USF transition would be gradual, shifting funding to the Connect America Fund. 

According to New York Times on 2-7-2011, USF is paid for by telecommunications companies which are required to contribute a percentage of their long distance revenues to the fund.  These costs are passed along to customers.  Congress has made attempts to overhaul the program, and some want to eliminate it altogether. Genachowski, however, sees this as an opportunity to help millions of Americans not be bypassed by the broadband revolution.

Related statements are availbable on the FFC website.

Indiana Legislature to Broadcast all Meetings Online

November 17th, 2010 by

Do you wish you were able to see the Indiana Legislature at work “in person” but unable to take the time to go to Indianapolis?  The Indiana legislature is getting organized for the 2011 session which starts Jan. 5th.  Those who want to closely follow the legislative process for a particular bill will be able to view live online broadcasts of any committee meetings or sessions related to their issue. 

In an Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune, the new House Speaker Brian Bosma was quoted as saying that cameras and microphones have been installed in all Statehouse meeting rooms, and the intention is to broadcast all meetings and sessions.  Although certain meetings have been broadcast online in the past, this is the first time for across the board broadcasts.

Links to the meeting broadcasts and committee schedules are available at the Indiana General Assembly website .

Indiana Intoduces Transparency Website

September 1st, 2010 by

Indiana state auditor Tim Berry announced a one-stop portal for Indiana government financial information. The website www.transparency.in.gov will provide Hoosiers with 24/7 access to information about how Indiana is utilizing its resources.  His press release yesterday outlined the information currently available, as well as plans to expand coverage in the future. Berry said since the legislature has failed to act on transparency legislation the past two sessions, his office as well as the offices of budget and technology have taken the initiative to provide this on their own.

Broadband Market Leaves Some Behind

July 19th, 2010 by

The Associated Press reported today that the FCC found market forces are not providing high speed internet to all of us!  We knew that already!  The FCC report states that between 14 and 24 million Americans do not have access to broadband.  I hope this reinforces the need for broadband mapping and continued action by the government so that our citizens will be equipped to participate fully in the 21st century

Broadband Infrastructure Award

July 7th, 2010 by

On July 2, 2010, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded more than $62.5 million in federal stimulus funding through the Broadband Technology Opportunities program (BTOP) to a group of national research and education networking organizations including University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), National LambdaRail (NLR), Indiana University and Northern Tier Network Consortium.  They are collaborating with technology companies to construct United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN), an advanced 100 Gigabit per second network backbone that will link regional networks across the nation.  This public-private partnership will impact all 50 states connecting anchor institutions – schools, libraries, community colleges, health centers and public safety organizations — in a high performance national network.

Expanding Broadband in Indiana

May 28th, 2010 by

As many as one-third of residents of the United States can not access broadband internet services. As a person who lives in a rural area of north central Indiana, I currently do not have access. I have long considered these pockets of unserved areas unacceptable for our supposedly rich, developed nation and have been following with interest the allotment of stimulus funds to expand broadband access, particularly in Indiana.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) with $7.2 billion to expand access to broadband services in the United States. NTIA will make all grant awards by September 30, 2010.

As of May 2010, three organizations have applied for and received funding grants affecting Indiana:

Education Networks of America (ENA) has been awarded $14,257,172 and plans to deploy 560 miles of fiber connections to 145 public schools and libraries expanding educational services such as distance learning, online job training, and access to e-government services to an estimated 290,000 students and library patrons.  They also intend to spur additional broadband internet services for residential, business and community institutions by enabling local internet providers to connect to the network.

One Economy Corporation has been awarded $28,519,482 and plans to provide computer training, wireless internet access, broadband awareness marketing, and online content to residents of lower income communities across 31 states, including Indiana.

Zayo Bandwidth, LLC has been awarded $25,140,315 and plans to connect the 21 Ivy Tech Community College campuses to the state’s existing high-speed network for education and research known as I-Light network.  They also plan to provide points of interconnection enabling providers to serve additional residential, business and community institutions.

In addition, the plan for mapping of the country’s broadband capabilities will at long last provide information about unserved areas so that these can be addressed.  States are charged to develop a plan to do this and the Indiana Office of Technology recently submitted its plan.