The Connected Nation Blog: February 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

New Study Shows Internet Use Lower Among Hispanics

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

A new
survey conducted by the Washington Post, The Kaiser Foundation, and Harvard University finds that Hispanics are less likely to use the Internet and express less confidence in their ability to use technology in the workplace. This echoes Connected Nation research that shows fewer Hispanic adults use the Internet. In fact, according to Connected Nation’s Residential Technology Assessments, Hispanic respondents were less likely to own a computer, subscribe to broadband service at home, or use the Internet altogether (whether from home or from someplace else).

At the same time, Hispanic respondents were just as likely as Caucasians to access mobile broadband, while African Americans were more likely than either group to do so.

This suggests that the rate of mobile broadband adoption is growing faster than “fixed” broadband among certain demographics, which raises several questions. For example, what are the main factors that lead some people to rely on mobile broadband as their only access to the Internet? Are mobile broadband users getting as much value from the Internet as those who go online from a computer? Will the growing demand for mobile broadband service complement or compete with fixed broadband? Will some people soon have “smart phones” but still be left on the wrong side of a new “Application Divide" because they cannot use their phone to fill out a job application or run a home business? How does growing dependence on mobile broadband affect the types of applications that businesses should make accessible to mobile users? Connected Nation intends to explore all of these issues through its residential and business research in the upcoming year.

Video: How Much Did Connected Nation Contribute to the National Broadband Map?

Just before the National Broadband Map was released last week, we sat down with Ashley Littell, Connected Nation's Director of GIS, to find out how much of Connected Nation's information and data went into the map.

See her answer below:


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Video: Why is the National Broadband Map Important?

Just before the National Broadband Map was released, we sat down with Ashley Littell, Connected Nation's Director of GIS Services, to learn about the impact of the map.

Watch what she has to say below:


Connected Tennessee’s Mandy Hale Honored as a Woman of Influence

Connected Tennessee Public Relations Specialist Mandy Hale will be honored today as one of the Nashville Business Journal's 2011 Women of Influence in the Inspiration/Mentor category.

This is the publication’s fifth annual Women of Influence publication and awards luncheon celebrating 32 women in nine categories: Behind the Scenes, Community Supporter, Corporate Executive, Dynamic Duo, Entrepreneur, Inspiration/Mentor, Nonprofit Leadership, Public Policy, and Trailblazer.

The awards luncheon will be held today at the Loews Vanderbilt Plaza in downtown Nashville. Each winner will also be featured in a special edition of the Nashville Business Journal tomorrow.

For a complete list of winners, see:

Friday, February 18, 2011

New Broadband Report Shows U.S. Adoption at 68%

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

Coinciding with yesterday’s launch of the National Broadband Map, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) also released a new report that may garner less attention, but is still important to the national broadband discussion. This report, titled Digital Nation: Expanding Internet Usage, shows that while between 90% and 95% of households have broadband service available to them, only 68% of households actually subscribe. While this percentage is up from 63.5% of households last year, it still means that between 25 and 31 million households have the option to access broadband, but choose not to.

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This report echoes Connected Nation’s findings that rural households, the elderly, minority residents, and adults with disabilities are less likely to subscribe to broadband, and the top barrier to broadband adoption remains the belief that they do not need home broadband service. At a state level, the broadband adoption figures that the NTIA reports are very similar to those found in surveys conducted by Connected Nation.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Brian Mefford Discusses the National Broadband Map

Brian Mefford, Connected Nation CEO, highlighted the impact of the National Broadband Map on the eve of its release. Watch his remarks below:

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The National Broadband Map

By Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

On Thursday, February 17, 2011, the Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), will release the National Broadband Map. For the first time, the American consumer will have access to comprehensive information on broadband service availability, speed tiers, and network options to their home. And policymakers at both the state and federal level will have access to information on the nation’s broadband infrastructure that will guide policy for years to come.

The National Broadband Map is the product of multiple years of effort, which began with a series of state-led initiatives. The map that will be launched this week is the result of the work of fifty-six states and territories, the FCC and NTIA, and nonprofit public-private partnerships like Connected Nation. It is detailed, fastidious work – with regard to the thirteen states and territories that we have helped map, Connected Nation has received and reviewed data from over 1,200 service providers, over a third of which have been validated by field teams. All told, our contribution to this project covers over 39 million households.

For Connected Nation, the National Broadband Map launch marks not only an important milestone in implementation of these 13 grant programs, it also marks a decade of work. Ten years ago, a tiny nonprofit, public-private partnership called ConnectKentucky was formed and entered into a partnership with the state government to accelerate broadband availability and adoption in the state. And we immediately recognized that there was a fundamental lack of basic information on broadband infrastructure in the state – how could we possibly promote adoption and use without even a snapshot of availability?

Well, rather than asking the question to the wind, ConnectKentucky sought to change that data deficit. It obtained information from service providers in the state, hired and sent out teams of engineers, poured over service and customer address logs, and released the first state comprehensive broadband inventory map in 2005.

This map went well beyond the “ZIP-Code” level data that the FCC was publishing at the time. And it was a self-started, state-driven effort by Kentucky that spawned a movement of similar projects in Tennessee, Ohio, West Virginia, and elsewhere. Ultimately that state-driven initiative led to Congress unanimously passing the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008, which provided the foundation for the National Broadband Map released this week.

The release of the map is only the beginning – it will continue to inform and shape the policy debate. Last week, President Obama announced the Wireless Innovation and Infrastructure Initiative, in which he proposed to funnel $5 billion raised from spectrum auctions to build out “4G” wireless infrastructure in areas that trail the rest of the country. Similarly, the FCC last week proposed to direct one-time broadband universal service funding to areas that the National Broadband Map lists as “unserved,” as a way of jump-starting broadband deployment in the United States.

Similarly, states are using the maps to inform and shape state broadband planning efforts. States like
Nevada have already comprehensively analyzed their infrastructure from this data and are embarking upon statewide initiatives. For example, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval recently proposed to target $3 million of state expenditures to fund broadband infrastructure projects in unserved areas. In addition, combined with adoption research, these maps will support state and local broadband adoption and utilization projects across the country.

All told, while it marks the culmination of a significant effort, the launch of the National Broadband Map marks, as Winston Churchill once said, “the end of the beginning.” The work of advancing broadband deployment and increasing broadband utilization - that work, that mission, that challenge, remains.

National Teleworking Week: Connected Nation surveys show who does, and doesn’t, telework

By Sarah Graham, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

This week is National Telework Week. At Connected Nation, we have been examining teleworking statistics in our programs across the country from Alaska to Texas to Puerto Rico.

On average, 16 percent of employed adults in Connected Nation states telework, or work from home during normal business hours instead of commuting. Minnesota has the highest percentage of employed adults who telework (20%), while only 4% of employed adults living in Puerto Rico telework.

In addition to teleworking, many individuals use broadband to work from home in different ways. One-third of Internet users (33%) report that they go online to work from home, either through teleworking, staying productive outside of normal business hours, or operating a business from their home. This includes 28% of minority Internet users and 26% of rural Internet users.

These numbers show that teleworking is a vital work option for many Americans. In fact, nearly half of Connected Nation’s staff currently teleworks. The telework option can help all sectors maintain their place in the American workforce.

On the heels of this week’s National Broadband Map release, we at Connected Nation are confident that these statistics will help confirm what we have known and have already shown — broadband coverage for all Americans provides work, life, school, and health opportunities that are endless.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Technology Can Help Make Valentine's Day Extra Special

By Mandy Hale
Public Relations Specialist, Connected Tennessee

With modern technology, there is literally no shortage of ways to make Valentine’s Day an affair to remember. From ordering flowers online to booking reservations to navigating your way through the virtual Tiffany’s rather than having to visit the actual store, saying iLoveYou has become as easy as the click of a button.

Several free iPhone apps are available to make connecting with your significant other as simple and convenient as connecting to the World Wide Web:

“Be Mine Lite” – Send your Valentine a virtual card that you created with this free app. Choose different animations and backgrounds to show your adoration.
“Valentine Radio” – Listen to 20+ different radio stations to get your fix of slow jams, soft rock, or even Barry White.
“Tiffany & Co. Engagement Ring Finder” – Did he propose? Is he going to buy you a Tiffany’s ring? Well, not only are you incredibly lucky, but there’s an app for you to pick out your dream ring.
Yelp also has an app of its own for all smartphones. Don’t worry about waiting for a table at your favorite restaurant on your special night, book your dinner reservation with Yelp’s mobile app.

And if you happen to be single this Valentine’s Day, never fear! Someone on the other end of your Internet connection might be holding the key to your heart.

As the executive director for the Hickman County Economic Development Association, Daryl Phillips discovered a few years ago that high-speed Internet can be handier than speed dating when it comes to meeting your “Match.”

While Daryl is a champion for expanding broadband technology to all corners of his county … it’s not just for the reasons one might think. Daryl certainly recognizes the impact broadband can have on the economic success of Hickman County, he has also witnessed firsthand the profound impact broadband can have on more personal aspects of life. More specifically, on matters of the heart.

Back in 2001, Daryl found that with a busy career and an even busier schedule, he just didn’t have the time to meet eligible, quality romantic prospects. So he decided to give the wildly popular matchmaking site a try. At the same time Gayle Shay, associate professor at Vanderbilt University's Blair School of Music and director of Vanderbilt Opera Theatre, was also trying her luck at the online dating game. The couple met online, began e-mailing back on forth, and went out on their first date on January 12, 2002. By June of 2003 they were married and went on to live happily ever after … right? Isn’t that how it usually happens? In this high-tech couple’s case, there was a little more to it than that!

Wanting an engagement ring with a history, Gayle set out to locate the perfect ring online. And locate it she did, on! She also used an Internet search for her
wedding dress and wound up buying it online, too.

So whether you’re single, taken, or somewhere in the middle this Valentine’s Day, let technology be the tie that binds and the one that finds; whether it’s finding the perfect restaurant, the perfect gift, or even the perfect love.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Happy Birthday, Thomas Edison

“If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves.”

So said Thomas Alva Edison, who was born 164 years ago today in Milan, Ohio.

Perhaps the world’s greatest inventor knew that innovation started with an idea and was built upon a foundation of hard work: “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration,” he said.

Edison’s approach to innovation and progress resulted in the phonograph, light bulb, motion picture camera, and countless other technological innovations we still use every day.

While Edison can’t lay claim to having invented the Internet, Edison’s breakthroughs in technology (he was granted more than 1,000 patents during his lifetime) undoubtedly paved the way for the Internet and many related technologies.

Edison’s spirit of innovation has also recently been echoed as President Obama Thursday
unveiled his National Wireless Initiative in Michigan – a state where Connected Nation, through its Connect Michigan subsidiary, has been working to promote the life-altering technology of high-speed Internet.

Thomas Edison is a kindred spirit to all Americans, whether they be volunteer trainers, community leaders, or the staff here at Connected Nation, who are inspired to work toward a more connected society through technology.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

President Launches National Wireless Initiative and Meets Broadband Innovators

President Obama wants nearly all Americans to have access to high-speed wireless Internet services within five years. He announced this goal today during the launch of his National Wireless Initiative at Northern Michigan University in Marquette, a city chosen because it has developed a wireless network worth emulating in other rural areas across the nation.

For Connected Nation, this announcement is especially important. Since late 2009,
Connect Michigan, one of our state-based programs, has been working with the federal, state, and local governments as well as state providers, community anchor institutions, and individual citizens to create a comprehensive broadband road map and promote opportunities to expand broadband.

Yesterday, Connect Michigan
released its latest business study showing that Michigan businesses with high-speed Internet connections report having median annual revenues $200,000 more than businesses without broadband.

The administration’s position is that wireless broadband connections provide the ability to not only transform local economies, but to significantly and positively impact the way citizens are educated, obtain healthcare, and secure quality-of-life necessities.

The President proposed to invest $18 billion into the inititive, with funds that would be raised from wireless spectrum auctions. $5 billion would be provided to the FCC to invest in wireless infrastructure such as towers and backhaul facilities in communities that would not have advanced wireless broadband service. Fire, police, and other emergency responders would get $10.7 billion in federal support to build a mobile Internet network that facilitates communications, video exchange, and e-mail. An additional $3 billion would be used on research and development for wireless technologies that can be used for education, healthcare, and energy.

The administration anticipates funding the program from the successful auction of 500 MHZ of wireless spectrum, estimated to net approximately $27.8 billion over the next decade.

The President met briefly with local business owners who have used broadband access to grow their businesses and technology executives including:

Rocky and Carol Getz, Owners, Getz’s Clotherier – A traditional clothing business that expanded with an e-commerce site (Internet sales make up 65% of new revenue) and was on Inc. Magazine’s 2009 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing privately owned companies in America.

Chaig Matteson, Chairman, and Richard Anderson, Managing Director, V.I.O Inc. – V.I.O Inc., an electronics company for outdoor enthusiasts, was started by a local entrepreneur and is now selling in more than 60 countries online.

Aicha Evans, CTO, Intel – As general manager of Intel’s WiMAX division, was directly involved in the wireless network that is featured at Northern Michigan University in Marquette.

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Connected Nation on the National Wireless Initiative

At Connected Nation, we have spent years working on and encouraging the use and expansion of broadband in some of the hardest to reach places. From the expansive states of Alaska and Texas to the island landscape of Puerto Rico, Connected Nation has seen the power broadband can provide residents and businesses alike.

Today, we are excited that President Obama also showcased the transformational affect broadband can have. He chose Michigan, a state where we have been working since late 2009, to highlight the importance of closing the digital divide that still remains in our vast nation.

In Michigan, through Connect Michigan, we continue to lay the necessary groundwork for the President's wireless goals by collecting data and working aggressively to close the digital divide. Specifically, Connect Michigan has been working with the federal, state, and local governments as well as state providers, community anchor institutions, and individual citizens to create a comprehensive broadband road map and promote opportunities to expand broadband. We applaud the initiative’s support for community collaboration and plans that rely on accurate and reliable data.

Through our work in Michigan, 11 other states, and Puerto Rico, we have been able to, for the very first time in some areas, accurately assess where the broadband market stands and can begin working with individual communities to address local barriers. Our studies are being used by local and state-level policy makers to help drive smart policies and investments that can quickly and effectively close the gaps. As we saw today in Michigan, there are countless examples across our states and nation proving that ingenuity is boundless with a broadband connection. We stand behind the goal to help every citizen realize the benefits of broadband.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Connected Nation Applauds FCC’s Proposal to Direct Broadband Funds Using National Broadband Map

Washington, DC – The following is a statement from Connected Nation in response to today’s USF reform proposal by the FCC to use the national broadband map to determine unserved areas eligible for USF funds.

“The FCC's proposal to distribute broadband support subsidies to unserved areas identified on the national broadband map is a landmark development that will help bring broadband to all Americans.

Connected Nation has been working with states and the NTIA to make the national broadband map a comprehensive, accurate, and transparent tool for policymakers and the public. We look forward to working with the FCC, NTIA, and our states to maintain a high standard of excellence in developing and cultivating this unprecedented data resource.”

Download statement

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Universal Service Reform: How Data Can Get This Reform Effort Over the Goal Line

By Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

Maximizing the opportunity that broadband technology offers is a key component of the National Broadband Plan and President Obama’s innovation agenda, and today the Federal Communications Commission will take an important step in that direction by proposing fundamental reform of the $8.7 billion federal universal service fund (or “USF”). Crucial to the success of this effort will be accurate, comprehensive, and transparent data collection and analysis, and one key tool will be the national broadband availability map that will be launched next week.

The future of the nation’s economy increasingly depends upon ubiquitous access to and use of broadband network platforms and innovative communications services that ride on top of those platforms. Yet the telecom industry’s crazy quilt program of subsidies and pay-per-call compensation remain. Even the vaunted “e-Rate” that has delivered broadband connectivity to thousands of classrooms and libraries since 1996 still largely funds dialtone service.

Transforming these subsidies to support broadband will not be easy, and fundamental reform is long overdue. For instance, the current program supports only certain parts of the network, such as copper loops and switching equipment, but not other components that affect broadband availability and performance, like middle-mile infrastructure. But the faults of this rickety system have been known to broadband policy wonks for years – so what makes the current reform effort different this time?

The difference is data. Until now, FCC, Congress, and state efforts to reform the system have gotten bogged down in debates in which the various sides to this complex, multi-billion dollar issue did not even agree on fundamental facts. Facts like where broadband is available. Or what part of the country lacks middle-mile infrastructure that might need to be subsidized. Or how much of the country depends upon a subsidized telephone network for broadband access today. Without knowing those facts, efforts to transform the USF to a broadband program are destined to fail. Think about playing a football game in which no one agreed on where the goal lines were, or even how long a yard is.

This time, however, policymakers will have access data to push USF reform over the goal line. Over the last eighteen months, fifty-six states and territories have been actively surveying and mapping broadband infrastructure in their jurisdictions, covering multiple speed tiers and network technologies. Connected Nation has helped gather and process that data in twelve states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Next week, the NTIA will unveil the result of some of this effort by launching the National Broadband Infrastructure Inventory map.

Here’s one example of how that data can inform the universal service debate. One problem with the current USF system is that since we only expect recipients to offer dialtone service, no one really tracks when and where those funds are used to build networks that support both dialtone and broadband in rural America (let alone whether it is being done in the most efficient or accountable way). Much of the current debate over the FCC’s proposal to convert these “high-cost” subsidies to support broadband centers on whether the current system has created a “rural-rural” divide in which some communities enjoy widespread broadband for which their demographically-similar yet unserved neighbors pay.

How big of an issue is this? Data collected by Connected Nation indicates that this rural-rural divide seems to be real and significant. As the FCC has found, the cost of building a broadband network is significantly based on household density. So if current subsidy dollars were being spent efficiently to build broadband, one would expect that the “unserved” and “underserved” areas of the country would have similar household density. But that is far from the case in the states Connected Nation has mapped.
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For example, the household density of the areas of Nevada with access to 3 Mbps advertised speed networks is 211 households per mile; by comparison, substantially less-dense areas of Iowa (39.9 households per mile) have similar access. Similarly, the “underserved” areas of Tennessee (as defined by the NTIA) have higher population density than the “served” areas of Kansas. The data presented in the table is of course aggregated up to the state level, but since it has been collected at the Census Block level, it can be analyzed at far more granular levels.
This is only one example, but it demonstrates the power of comprehensive and accurate data, and how it can shift the policy debate towards answers and reform, and away from confusion and stasis.

Getting USF reform right and transforming this $8.7 billion behemoth to support America’s broadband future will be a tough transition. And it will only be accomplished if policymakers, the industry, and most importantly, the American public have access to transparent, complete, and accurate data. Data that can finally and definitively answer the questions that have long-vexed this debate are on their way – and that will finally bring the goal line clearly in sight.

Monday, February 7, 2011

FCC Holding Open Meeting to Rule on Universal Service Fund reforms

On Tuesday, February, 8, the Federal Communications Commission will hold an open meeting in Washington, D.C., in which it will vote on proposed Universal Service Fund reforms.

Tom Koutsky, Connected Nation’s Chief Policy Counsel, will be attending and live tweeting from the meeting, which is scheduled to begin at 10:30 a.m. EST. In adding, the FCC will be live streaming the meeting

For more information, read FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski's proposal to shift federal universal service subsidies to connect America to broadband.

Follow us on Twitter at to see our take on the meeting.

Related Articles
FCC Seeks Overhaul on Rural-Telecom Fund (Wall Street Journal, 2/7/2011)

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Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Super WiFi Summit: Day 1

Connected Nation is having a great time at the Super WiFi Summit, taking place February 2-4, 2011, in Miami, Florida.

Chip Spann, Connected Nation's Director of Engineering & Technical Services, was impressed with the dynamic industry speakers, former FCC chairman Kevin Martin's thoughts, WISPA's presentation, and the discussion on television white space. "And, that's just the first day. I can't wait until the 2nd day," he said.

The Super WiFi Summit represents the next evolution in the wireless experience. The opening of white space for Super WiFi will create new business opportunities and greater mobility for consumers and enterprises. The Super WiFi Summit will discuss what this opportunity will mean for service providers, local TV operators, municipalities, enterprises, and consumers.

For agenda and the full speaker lineup visit here.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Super WifFi Summit Starts February 2

Connected Nation will join the nation’s leading wireless companies and trade associations at the Super WiFi Summit, taking place February 2-4, 2011 in Miami, Florida.

Connected Nation Director of Engineering & Technical Services Chip Spann will be presenting with wireless visionaries including WISPA Executive Director Rick Harnish; Brough Turner, founder of; Barlow Keener, attorney, Keener Law Group; Rick Whitt, Washington telecom and media counsel for Google; and others. For agenda and the full speaker line up visit here.

The Super WiFi Summit represents the next evolution in the wireless experience. The opening of white space for Super WiFi will create new business opportunities and greater mobility for consumers and enterprises. The Super WiFi Summit will discuss what this opportunity will mean for service providers, local TV operators, municipalities, enterprises, and consumers.

Connect Ohio Launches YouTube Video PSA Contest

Ohio residents now have a chance to become the stars of an upcoming statewide public service campaign for Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online program.

Connect Ohio launched this
YouTube video public service announcement contest today and is looking to gather meaningful stories of Ohioans using broadband technology.

The winning video(s) will be 30- or 60-seconds in length and demonstrate the usefulness of the Internet to the daily lives of Ohioans, creative ways people use Internet technology, and how “Life is better with Broadband.”

Videos must be uploaded to, and then submitted to Connect Ohio at

Entries are due by March 21, 2011, and winners will be announced in April.

The contest winner(s) will receive an Apple iPad and may be selected to appear in Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online public service announcements.

To learn more and view rules of the contest, visit

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