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National Broadband Adoption Stagnant, TechNet Finds

March 21, 2012

A new report from TechNet finds that on the two-year anniversary of the National Broadband Plan aimed at getting more Americans to use broadband at home, the adoption rate remains about the same. The study identifies several reasons behind the plateau and calls for better coordination among policymakers and private stakeholders to improve adoption rates. Meanwhile, some states have big plans in the works to improve their broadband networks, including governors in Hawaii and New York pushing for funding to expand Internet access to underserved areas. Ohio's governor is taking a different approach in hopes of attracting new employers and cutting-edge researchers with a $10 million state-led initiative boasting broadband speeds that officials say would far exceed the rest of the nation. The TechNet report finds the number of Americans with broadband at home has remained around 65 percent since 2009 when the National Broadband Plan was implemented under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). At the same time, smartphone adoption and apps usage has grown significantly. However, this is not because smartphone users are swapping broadband service at home with smartphone usage; rather, connected individuals are increasing their access while others are left behind. A society more "digitally excluded," the authors contend, contributes to a smaller domestic market for tech goods and services and a less innovative economy. Coordination and assessment is seen as key to pushing past the plateau. A clearinghouse for best practices that assembles program information would help local authorities better understand broadband opportunities and help states understand what other states are doing, the report finds. This week, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) called for better assessment of broadband adoption programs funded by the federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) by asking the Government Accountability Office to conduct a study, reports The Washington Post. The senator also sent inquiries to major broadband providers asking what programs they have in place to promote adoption and digital literacy. Read the report at: http://www.technet.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/TechNet-NBP-Broadband-.... Hawaii, New York Pushing Efforts to Expand Broadband Coverage With the launch of the Hawaii Broadband Initiative last year, Gov. Neil Abercrombie set a goal of providing affordable, high-speed Internet for individuals and businesses across the state by 2018. In an executive memorandum, the governor said Hawaii would use $33.6 million in ARRA funds to become the first state in the nation with direct 1 gigabit per second broadband connectivity at every public school, library and college campus. Under the plan, the Department of Business Economic Development and Tourism will create financial incentives to attract investment from providers and forge public-private partnerships offering greater access to broadband services, according to the governor's office. In December, a Pacific Business News article reported that the financial incentives to attract investors and build partnerships likely would move ahead in the 2012 legislative session. In New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working with legislators to earmark $25 million from the $75 million New York Works Economic Development Fund to expand broadband Internet access to rural upstate and underserved urban areas, reports the Associated Press. The legislature would have to approve the job creating fund as well as a law allowing partnerships with private companies to implement high-speed broadband coverage, according to the article. The funding is part of the governor's FY13 proposed budget. Ohio Boosting Broadband Speed to Draw Researchers, Businesses A state-led initiative in Ohio will offer private sector businesses the opportunity to access a 100 gigabit network and state-of-the art innovation center for testing and developing new products. Gov. John Kasich announced in February Ohio's $8.1 million state investment to increase the speed of its broadband network from 10 gigabits per second (Gbps) to 100 Gbps. Another $2.3 million will help create an innovation center that would enable and test 100 Gbps technologies and promote the development of broadband, software and advanced technology applications. The network will connect Ohio's major metropolitan areas to northern and southern connection points of Internet2, a nationwide advanced networking consortium led by the research and education community. Private sector businesses would have access to the network as a partner with JobsOhio. Read more: http://www.oar.net/press/releases/2012/2012_100G.shtml.

Hawaii, New York, Ohio