broadband

NGA releases infrastructure initiative report two months early

The product of a year-long initiative focused on addressing America’s crumbling infrastructure has been released two months early in an effort to help speed the economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic. The initiative, called Infrastructure: Foundation for Success, identifies four key federal priorities that should be addressed if America is to rebuild its infrastructure.

Exactly 21 years after first Digest story, GAO and FCC still talking about digital divide

Exactly 21 years after the SSTI Weekly Digest ran its first story on the digital divide, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office confirms what inestimable studies before it have reported: access to broadband has expanded, but significant shortcomings in broadband still exist. Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission has issued new rules to improve collection and mapping of broadband availability. The commission is also seeking comments on proposals to ensure the accuracy of the new broadband coverage maps.

Maine voters to decide $15M bond issue for broadband funding

Voters in Maine will consider a high-speed internet infrastructure bond issue on the July 14 ballot. The legislatively-referred measure would authorize $15 million in general obligation bonds for the Connect ME Authority to provide funding for high-speed internet infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas. The bond revenue would be used to match an estimated $30 million in federal, private, local and other funds.

Homework gap highlights digital divide as Congress considers more money for broadband

School buses across the country are helping school children as they finish a decidedly unconventional academic year but they aren’t transporting students, they are acting as mobile Wi-Fi units bringing connectivity capability to students who lack broadband service. As the coronavirus pandemic closed schools across the country, many in rural or low-income areas without internet access were left scrambling as classes went online. Equipping buses with Wi-Fi to help accommodate the online learning is a short-term solution to a much bigger problem.

New reports bolster broadband data, provide tactics for successful state broadband expansion

Two new reports, one from the National Association of Counties (NACO) and the other from the Pew Charitable Trusts, provide new data on the gaps in access to broadband and some tactics for how states can effectively develop their broadband expansion projects.

FCC moves ahead with $20 billion rural broadband funding plan

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week that it has approved the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund which will provide $20.4 billion over two phases to help expand broadband networks throughout rural communities. Phase one will provide $16 billion for use in communities that are currently unserved by broadband services with minimal download speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and 3 Mbps upload speeds.

States making headway in closing the rural-urban divide in access to high-speed broadband service

Access to reliable and fast internet service is a foundational element for the modern economy. Since the advent of broadband service its delivery has been highly divided between urban and rural areas. Many states are continuing to address this divide and took action in 2019. Several states repealed laws prohibiting local electric companies and co-ops from providing broadband services, other states initiated official planning efforts to expand internet services, and many approved and dispersed funding to develop broadband infrastructure in rural areas.

Pew launches interactive tool that monitors every state’s broadband policies and regulations

Broadband access is one of the pillars of economic development, yet as many as 24 million Americans, including a disproportionate percentage in rural areas, still lack high-speed and reliable internet service, according to the Pew Charitable Trust.

FCC announces new tech initiatives

The Federal Communication Commission Chairman Ajit Pai outlined two new initiatives aimed at ensuring U.S. leadership in 5G and continuing efforts to close the digital divide. Pai announced his intent to create the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which he indicated would inject $20.4 billion into high-speed broadband networks in rural American over the next decade.

Innovation, broadband, higher education initiatives get state support

Innovation initiatives are seeing increased funding in some states as legislatures across the country begin to finalize budget bills and other legislation. SSTI continues to monitor these developments and this week we cover budget bills in Idaho that saw small increases to the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, as well as increases in the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) and STEM Action Center, and new funding for a computer science initiative. South Dakota will see an increase in funding for the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and West Virginia passed bills creating an SBIR/STTR matching grant program, support for community and technical college tuition assistance, expansion of broadband service, and other innovation-related initiatives in its budget that passed earlier in March.

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