The Connected Nation Blog: December 2009

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Shot in the Arm, but Not the Cure

“President Obama appears to have struck the right balance with the initial announcements on broadband infrastructure awards. The administration’s focus on connecting community anchor institutions such as libraries, schools, and hospitals is a big step forward in bridging America’s digital divide. And, the awards for last-mile projects in rural areas are clearly key to closing the broadband gaps for unserved residents and businesses.

We are eager to learn more about the full list of projects funded in the first round, particularly within the sustainable adoption program. While the supply-side projects are obviously important for broadband stimulus efforts, effective demand-side programs are critical to accompany these network deployments if we hope to see any sustainable positive economic effects.

Connected Nation
research in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Ohio shows that the largest barrier to broadband adoption is a lack of awareness about broadband’s benefits. Across these three states, 44 percent of those without a home broadband connection say ‘I don’t need broadband.’ Among vulnerable populations such as low-income residents, minorities, and people with disabilities, this awareness challenge is even greater.

While these middle-mile projects to connect community anchor institutions should be a big shot in the arm for broadband expansion in those areas, if there is not enough prospective demand for broadband service, particularly in the rural markets, then the wholesaler will be hard-pressed to get any internet service provider (ISP) takers to provide last mile service on the network. Even then, if take-rates remain low, the last mile services will likely prove to be unsustainable.

So, in addition to the hope of spurring demand indirectly through community anchor institutions, it is critical that effective digital literacy/awareness and computer ownership programs are funded and established to ensure the sustainability of these type of infrastructure projects as well as to ensure that vulnerable populations are not marginalized as a result of not having a computer or the digital skills to use broadband.“

--From Laura Taylor, Connected Nation’s Chief Policy Officer, in response to the federal government’s awarding of $183 million in federal broadband stimulus funds through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program and the Rural Utilities Service’s Broadband Infrastructure program.

Want to know more? Click
here to view Connected Nation’s recommendations to NTIA about these projects.

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Jackson City Library receives six computers from Connect Ohio’s No Child Left Offline ® program

JACKSON, OH – Six new notebook computers provided by Connect Ohio’s No Child Left Offline ® program will help Jackson County residents bridge the “digital divide” and connect to high-speed wireless broadband Internet at the Jackson City Library. The computers were presented today at a ceremony in the library’s Potter meeting room.

Connect Ohio’s 2008 Residential Technology Assessment for Jackson County shows that only about 27 percent of residents have high-speed Internet service in their homes. In fact, 3,500 of Jackson County’s more than 12,000 households don’t have access to broadband technology in their homes, while 95 percent of Ohio households do.

Many students on the wrong side of the divide resort to skipping lunch to work in school computer labs or making long journeys to the public library after school. Such efforts are necessary because Ohio students are now doing much of their work online, including reading textbooks, watching podcasts, using discussion boards and creating PowerPoint presentations.

The Jackson City library currently has seven broadband connected computers that are made available for public use. In the past year, library director Laura Thorne reports that nearly 1,000 patrons use the computers every month. There is often a wait to use a computer, especially after local schools are dismissed for the day, she said.

“Since Wi-Fi service is available throughout the library, patrons will be able to use one of these notebooks to access the Internet when the desktop stations are in use,” Thorne said. “We are also hoping that the addition of these new computers will allow us to resume computer training for our patrons,” Thorne said.

“Connect Ohio is pleased to be able to provide these new computers for use by Jackson County students and for any other resident who wants to take advantage of the benefits of high-speed Internet,” said Tom Fritz, Connect Ohio’s executive director. “Research by the American Library Association finds that more than 90 percent of libraries provide formal or informal technology training to library patrons. Of those libraries that offer formal classes, 91 percent provide training in general computer skills; 71 percent have formal classes in using software applications; and 93 percent have training in general Internet use.”

No Child Left Offline is an innovative project that brings together public and private partners to help disadvantaged students and their families gain access to broadband-enabled technology.

This is accomplished by placing computers in the hands of disadvantaged populations so that they have access to abundant technological resources and can perform basic computing functions.

The program is funded through public and private donations.

“We are truly thankful for the public and private partners who generously support the No Child Left Offline program. With community collaboration we are able to get vital technology into the hands of Ohioans that need it most,” Fritz said.

For more information about the No Child Left Offline ® program, visit:

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Connected Tennessee Debuts Latest Innovation in Broadband Mapping

Screen shot of BroadbandStat in Tennessee, developed by Connected Nation in conjunction with ESRI, a market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software.

Michael Ramage (left), executive director of Connected Tennessee, showcases BroadbandStat to Connected Tennessee steering committee members.

Today, Connected Tennessee, a Connected Nation state-based initiative, demonstrated a new interactive mapping tool for viewing, analyzing and validating broadband data.

Called BroadbandStat, the new interactive mapping platform is a multi-functional, user-friendly way for local leaders, policymakers, consumers and technology providers to devise a plan for the expansion and adoption of broadband.

BroadbandStat was developed by Connected Nation in conjunction with ESRI, a market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software.

For Bob Mayfield, managing partner of Electronic Communications Systems, a small broadband provider in west Tennessee, the new tool will be extremely helpful as his company plans further coverage.

“BroadbandStat is a very important tool,” Mayfield said. “For providers to be able to look at the market as we are developing our business plans--to see where broadband exists and where the demand is—this is the best thing that’s come out in a while.”

Daryl Phillips, executive director of the Hickman County Department of Economic and Community Development (ECD), agreed.

“Five years ago, we had local business owners that couldn't decide where to locate within the county because they didn't have access to this kind of detailed information,” Phillips said. “Now, business and industry can use this tool for relocation decisions, home buyers can use this while shopping for a home and government and ECD can use it for planning purposes. BroadbandStat gives Tennessee an advantage over other states."

During Wednesday’s presentation, Michael Ramage, executive director of Connected Tennessee, showcased the online tool, giving a basic overview of the system, along with highlighting advanced ways to view the data. BroadbandStat is scheduled to launch by late 2009 to early 2010 in Tennessee.

BroadbandStat is unique because it allows a user to build and evaluate broadband expansion scenarios using a wealth of data, including education and population demographics, current broadband speeds and availability and research about the barriers to adoption. The tool also provides an instant feedback mechanism for consumers to validate broadband data electronically or via phone.

The tool will be useful for government agencies, consumers, community leaders, broadband providers and the media. The broadband-related data can be used for grant writing, broadband investment and economic development, and it gives the public the ability to find information about broadband providers, down to the street-level.

Since its inception in 2007, Connected Tennessee has distributed more than 2,100 computers to children, families and community-based organizations through its Computers 4 Kids program.

On Monday, Connected Tennessee highlighted its digital inclusion work at a Federal Communications Commission’s field hearing in Memphis. The field hearing was one of a series of FCC’s public hearings promoting an open discussion between the commission and the public on the development of a national broadband plan.

Related Information:

News Article: 12 States Pick GIS to Help Build Broadband Coverage Maps

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Parkland Senior Citizens Receive Computer Class Completion Certificates

Larry Gordon, a participant at the Oasis Center’s senior computer class, shows off the certificate he earned for completing the class

Local Residents of All Ages Gain Valuable High-Technology Skills at Oasis Center

Louisville, KY--At the Oasis Living in Freedom and Excellence Center in the Parkland neighborhood of Louisville, the center’s first senior computer classes recently ended. The five students spent several weeks learning about computers and their applications.

For some of the participants, the courses were their first time using a computer, while others were able to fine tune their current skills. Despite their different skill-levels, the participants praised the course and lamented its end.

“I hate to see the class end,” participant Larry Gordon said following the recent end-of-class certificate ceremony and luncheon. “It was very enlightening.”

Thanks to a donation from ConnectKentucky and its partners, the Oasis Life Center has been able to provide community residents—both young and old--with access to a free computer lab outfitted with computers and printers. The lab also has laptop computers for use at the center or on loan.

The center was formed in 2003 by Elim Baptist Church members to house a program to help young people learn more about the technical side of the music business. Since then, the center has become a nonprofit agency and offers afterschool tutoring, parent workshops and outreach for people dealing with HIV-AIDS, along with the senior computer training classes.

Michelle Patrick, the center's executive director and a retired teacher, said she has seen the need for such a lab for years.

“I remember when I taught at Meyzeek [Middle School], so often kids had projects but no access to computers at home to work on those projects,” she said. “That always stuck with me.”

Along with all of its current activities, the Center will add GED preparation classes starting in January 2010. Also, the Center has plans to offer online college preparatory and foreign-language courses and video editing for teenagers, Patrick said.

“I like to tell people we're small, but we have lofty goals,” she said.

Related Information:

Press Release:
Nine Louisville-area Non-profits Receive More than $40K Worth of Computers, Printers

Monday, December 14, 2009

UPDATE: NextGenWeb to live stream FCC Field Hearing Featuring Connected Nation State-level Digital Inclusion Work

At 7 p.m. Eastern, NextGenWeb will live stream the Federal Communications Commission’s Field Hearing in Memphis. The digital inclusion work of Connected Tennessee, a Connected Nation state-level initiative, will be highlighted during the event.

Connected Tennessee’s executive director Michael Ramage will speak at one of a series of FCC’s public hearings promoting an open discussion between the commission and the public on the development of a national broadband plan.

View the live feed here.

In addition, Connected Nation has submitted a number of comments to the FCC, adding its voice to the public discussion. The filings cover a variety of topics including education, healthcare, economic opportunity and broadband adoption.

To view the filings, click here.

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Connected Nation State-level Digital Inclusion Work Hightlighted at FCC Public Hearing

Connected Tennessee’s Executive Director Michael Ramage Invited to Speak at Federal Communications Commission’s Field Hearing in Memphis

Memphis, Tenn. -- Today, the digital inclusion work of Connected Tennessee, a Connected Nation state-level initiative, will be highlighted during a Federal Communications Commission’s field hearing in Memphis.

Connected Tennessee’s executive director Michael Ramage will speak at one of a series of FCC’s public hearings promoting an open discussion between the commission and the public on the development of a national broadband plan.

In Tennessee, work to provide expanded access to and use of broadband has seen significant success. Since Connected Tennessee’s 2007 inception, more than 250,000 Tennesseans have gained access to broadband.

Connected Tennessee has accomplished this goal by involving all of Tennessee’s 95 counties in a technology planning and outreach process called e-Community Strategies. Through this process, each county creates local leadership teams, comprised of leaders from both the private and public sector. These teams work to create county-level technology plans in order to address a particular county’s challenges related to technology growth.

In addition to this process, Connected Tennessee has distributed more than 2,100 computers to children, families and community-based organizations through its Computers 4 Kids program. In October, Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids program was awarded a “community service” award at the 7th annual TechStar Awards in Kingsport, Tenn. The honor was given for the program’s commitment of time and resources to improve the community through technology.

Following the success of state-based programs like Connected Tennessee’s Computer 4 Kids, Connected Nation and several leading technology companies including Intel, Fujitsu, Velocity Micro and ZT Systems announced in August the creation of Every Citizen Online (SM), a public-private partnership program that will enable computer ownership and broadband use in low-income and unconnected homes throughout the United States.

The program will help vulnerable populations overcome the top barriers to adoption: broadband awareness and training, computer ownership and subscription affordability.

Joining together technology companies and local entities, the program will provide digital literacy and help unconnected consumers purchase a new broadband-enabled computer using an instant rebate, bundled with a year of discounted broadband service.

Related Links:

Press Release:
Connected Nation Partners with Technology Leaders to Apply for Broadband Stimulus Funds to Connect More U.S. Households

About: Every Citizen Online (SM)

Whitepaper: Investing in Sustainable Broadband Adoption (PDF)

News Article: Intel's Maloney talks beer and broadband (The Hill, 10/29/09)

News Article:
Q&A with Brian Meffford, CEO, Connected Nation About Every Citizen Online (Wireless Government Report, 12/07/09)

News Article:

News Article: Intel, Dell, Fujitsu Partner with Nonprofit to Increase Low-income Internet Access (The Daily Tell, 08/18/09)

News Article: Connected Nation, Technology Stalwarts Launch Every Citizen Online (Cherokeean Hearld, 08/19/09)

News Article: Connected Nation: Access Not the Biggest Problem (TMCNet, 08/14/09)

News Article: Intel, Dell Join Nonprofit To Bring Cheap Internet Svc To Poor (Dow Jones Newswire via The Wall Street Journal, 08/13/09)

View press release

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Connect Kansas Grant Funding Announced in News Conference

Today, Kansas Lt. Governor Troy Findley and Kansas Department of Commerce Secretary Bill Thornton hosted a news conference to unveil Kansas’ $2 million federal grant for the Connect Kansas rural broadband initiative.

Connected Nation has been chosen by the Department of Commerce to assist with the state’s mapping and planning activities. In addition, the Information Network of Kansas and the Kansas Farm Bureau have provided required matching grant funds.

To learn more, visit Connect Kansas’
Web site or the CN news blog.

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