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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.

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.