The Connected Nation Blog: August 2010

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Connected Nation’s Connect Ohio Receives Federal Grant to Provide Free Computer Training at Public Libraries, Community Colleges in Ohio

Connect Ohio’s Public Adoption Through Libraries/Every Community Online Adoption Project will receive $6.9 million, which will offer free computer training sessions at public libraries and community colleges throughout Ohio and will introduce new users to a wide range of communication, education, and healthcare tools available online.

The project is funded through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

Connect Ohio’s two-year program provides the necessary equipment, training, technical support, and public awareness components to create publicly accessible training sessions in Ohio’s public libraries and community colleges, educating new computer users and helping them take advantage of the powerful social and economic tools available through high-speed Internet service.

The project is expected to immediately create 136 jobs, train 209,000 consumers over two years, and inspire a total of 75,000 new households to adopt broadband in their daily lives. Public computing capacity will also be enhanced by the placement of more than 2,000 new public computers that will be distributed to dozens of public library and community college locations across the state along with the necessary curriculum to be used in the training program.

To read the full project summary, visit the NTIA website.

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Connected Nation’s Connected Tennessee Garners Federal Grant to Help Provide Technology to Disadvantaged Youth

In Tennessee, the work to connect the entire state just received a major boost, thanks to $2.3 million in federal funding.

Today, Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids program was awarded $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).

BTOP provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.

The Computers 4 Kids grant will be used in efforts to increase sustainable broadband adoption and provide computers and training to nearly 60,000 disadvantaged youth across Tennessee.

Specifically, the project intends to focus on economically vulnerable youth in Tennessee by deploying laptops, academic support programs, and workforce training to two disparate, but especially at-risk populations: those in the state’s foster care system that are “aging out” as they turn 18 and youth that are active in the state’s 76 Boys & Girls Clubs.

The project plans to provide younger children in the Boys & Girls Clubs with broadband access in a safe environment via its Club Tech program, supported by software provider Microsoft.

“This project is going to connect thousands of Tennessee young people who would otherwise not have access to the vast resources afforded by a high-speed Internet connection,” said Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen. “The project will create new educational opportunities and provide vital career training that will empower youth with the tools they need to achieve their goals in a way not previously available to them.”

Already, Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids program has donated more than 2,000 computers to children, families, and communities throughout Tennessee.

To read the project description,
visit the NTIA website.


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Grassroots Efforts Bring High-Speed Internet to Rural Kentucky—One Community’s Story

In Greenup County, Kentucky, Melinda Spears and her two teenage daughters have never had an opportunity to connect to affordable high-speed Internet.

“I have a daughter in high school and, well have you tried to do anything on the computer via dialup lately?” Spears wrote to ConnectKentucky. “It's excruciatingly slow if it even works at all. Needless to say, she is unable to do any of her computer based schoolwork at home. In this day of technology, citizens are literally handicapped without the use of the Internet for everything from entertainment to information to education to contacting your representatives.”

However, thanks to grassroots efforts from public officials, private industry, local residents, and ConnectKentucky, Spears, her daughters, and her neighborhood are now benefiting from affordable high-speed Internet.

In a time where connectivity continues to be an issue in many rural areas in all states, Spears’ story is all too common. Her neighborhood is small — just 17 or so families. It’s on the border of two counties — Greenup and Boyd. Spears called her neighborhood, which runs along Brookefield Farm Road, the “Bermuda Triangle of Greenup County.”

Based on a suggestion from State Rep. Tanya Pullin (D-District 98), Spears contacted ConnectKentucky, who suggested that Spears gather a group of neighbors interested in broadband service. She did just that and, in May, Foundation Telecommunications, Inc. (FTI) started providing Spears and her neighbors with high-speed service.

Rep. Pullin was pleased.

“I have been working to expand broadband service to our area for years. Because we are largely a rural area, several different ways to deliver high-speed Internet are needed to meet the needs of the residents here. Since FTI’s technology seems to work well, it may help to provide high-speed Internet to other rural parts of our county, too,” Rep. Pullin said. “I applaud Mrs. Spears and her neighbors for taking an active role in making this solution work. I also commend ConnectKentucky for their creativity in finding this high-speed Internet solution.”

For Spears and her neighbors, the new broadband service is working beautifully and they couldn’t be more excited.

“We were at the end of our rope. Our daughter had a new computer, but she was not using it. We are really happy with the new broadband service and others I have talked with are also pleased,” Spears said. “FTI was very persistent in dealing with the weather challenges in setting up the system. It is a whole different world being able to use broadband.”

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Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Community Collaboration Helps Secure Broadband Grant for Meigs County, OH

On Wednesday, Aug. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service Broadband Initiatives Program awarded five Ohio broadband projects. The $14.4 million in broadband infrastructure funding will infuse jobs and enhance broadband capacity in several rural counties.

Among the recipients is New Era Broadband, which worked with Connected Nation and its state-based organization, Connect Ohio, to apply for the funding to bring service to nearly 3,500 unserved residents in rural Meigs County.

According to Connect Ohio’s research, approximately one in five Meigs County households cannot access high-speed Internet service. With this new grant, that’s all about to change. The funds will be used over the next 24 months for a last-mile infrastructure project which will provide fixed-point to multi-point wireless broadband service to increase the county’s broadband capacity and help create jobs.

"(The) decision is a major win for residents of Meigs County," New Era Broadband Company President Brien Burke said. "We're pleased to be able to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to nearly 3,500 residents and businesses there. The award will also provide future jobs and economic opportunities for Meigs County, which will have access to less expensive, higher-speed Internet service."

County commissioners, community leaders, and local partners were instrumental in collaborating with the Meigs County-based fixed wireless provider on the proposal. See:
Pomeroy Daily Sentinel - Firm doubles service as part of ‘county broadband plan’

"We helped New Era identify the unserved areas of Meigs County, conducted propagation and path profile studies, and assisted them in obtaining a lease on the McKenzie Ridge MARCS tower," said Chip Spann, Connected Nation’s director of engineering and technical services. "The initial engineering design was provided as part of New Era's grant application and we’ve continued to offer consulting support along the way. It’s been a win-win for New Era and the citizens of Meigs County."

To learn more, visit