Ohio Lt. Gov. Jon Husted wasn’t surprised when an OH Department of Transportation report, released in late Sept, indicated that his state has valuable assets that can lead to broadband expansion. “Actually, it largely confirmed what we believed,” Lt Gov Husted said. “That the public infrastructure, particularly the rights of way, have value, and we need to leverage that value to extend broadband…to places that don’t presently have it.” Like most states, OH has been aware that a significant portion of its population, mostly in rural areas, has little to no access to high-speed Internet.
The essential point at the Nevada Broadband Workshop in Reno was this: Communities that want broadband should produce a plan that’s as comprehensive as possible. Hosted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) BroadbandUSA program, the workshop guided attendees through various aspects of broadband planning for smaller communities. Even if the cost for a project seems exorbitant, a plan can still be made.
For some time, it’s been no secret that the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data overestimates broadband coverage in the US. In response, Georgia took matters into its own hands. Recently, the state had completed maps for three counties — Elbert, Lumpkin and Tift — that showed just how off current FCC data is. The maps were the result of a pilot carried out by the Georgia Broadband Deployment Initiative (GBDI), which is part of the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.
Internet access is a critical concern across the United States. Countless news reports chronicle a trend of states and local areas working to expand broadband Internet for unserved and underserved populations. One assumption driving these efforts is that improved broadband coverage will lead to better economic outcomes. Here’s the complication: Research on broadband doesn’t necessarily confirm that assumption, even though certain pieces of research seem to suggest the case is closed.
Kenrick Gordon, director of the Maryland Governor’s Office of Rural Broadband, sees numerous ways that improved broadband access can transform life and work in rural areas. But sometimes framing this issue is as simple as tying it all back to education. “If our children have to go to McDonald’s to do their homework, that’s not a good thing,” he said. Gov. Larry Hogan (R-MD) revealed a five-year, $100 million plan to expand rural broadband.
Seattle’s (WA) Technology Matching Fund is now open for applications from community and nonprofit groups for grants of up to $50,000 in service of work that improves digital equity. The city is seeking “applications for projects that increase access to free or low-cost broadband, empower residents with digital literacy skills, and ensure affordable, available and sufficient devices and technical support,” officials announced.