The Connected Nation Blog: April 2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Connected Nation CEO to Offer Two Keynotes at TIA 2011: Inside the Network Conference

Connected Nation’s CEO Brian Mefford is set to deliver two keynote address at the Telecommunications Industry Association’s premier annual summit and conference, TIA 2011: Inside the Network, held on May 17-20 at the Gaylord Texan Hotel in Dallas.

Mefford’s keynotes include:

Connecting Communities: Public-Private Initiatives in Overcoming the Nation’s Broadband Challenge. (Wednesday, May 18 at 3 p.m. CST). His keynote will showcase the newly-released National Broadband Map and discuss Connected Nation’s model for private-public engagement in bringing solutions to under-served communities.

New Models for Extending Broadband Reach (Thursday, May 19, time to be determined CST). This panel will feature Mefford, along side National Telecommunications Cooperative Association President, Sandy Vandevender.

“We deeply appreciate Brian sharing the hands-on experience that Connected Nation has in bringing broadband technologies to the nation’s communities,” said TIA President Grant Seiffert. “His awareness of the hurdles we face in bringing the benefits of broadband to unserved and underserved areas, and how we face and conquer those challenges, will provide participants at TIA 2011: Inside the Network with knowledge that can be put to immediate use.”

Interested in learning more about the keynotes and programming at TIA 2011: Inside the Network? View the TIA 2011 Virtual Attendee Brochure or download a PDF (8 MB). Also, a video webinar that provides a sneak preview of the event is available on TIA’s Digital Marketplace, which is the virtual event platform that launched April 21. Register to attend TIA 2011: Inside the Network today.


Commissioner Clyburn Addresses the Need for Local Solutions for Each Community’s Unique Broadband Barriers

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

Last week, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn addressed the Internet2 Spring Membership Meeting, where she stressed the need to promote locally-driven solutions to address the gap in broadband adoption. She said “an approach that allows for the development of best practices while at the same time tailoring those best practices to the unique needs of a local community is, in my opinion, one of the best ways to combat barriers to deployment and ensure adoption.” We at Connected Nation couldn’t agree more.

Take, for example, rural Benton and Decatur counties in Tennessee, two neighboring counties with similar population densities, median ages, and median household incomes. These two counties are not dramatically different in their broadband availability, according to the National Broadband Map (94.2% of Benton County residents have access to broadband service at speeds of at least 3 Mbps downstream/768 Kbps upstream, compared to 98.5% in Decatur County). Yet Connected Tennessee’s 2010 Residential Technology Assessment indicated that only 37% of Benton County residents subscribe to home broadband service, compared to 53% in Decatur County.

What causes these differences? Does the increased competition between providers in Decatur County force providers to offer better service (79.4% of Decatur County residents can choose from three or more broadband providers, compared to only 63.4% in Benton County, according to the National Broadband Map)? Is it the result of local programs like Vision Perry that provide computer training and job opportunities for local residents?

These differences can’t be identified, let alone addressed, with state or national maps that only show broadband availability. That’s why Connected Nation plans to conduct surveys across several states in 2011 that can help identify communities with the lowest adoption rates and provide local leaders with insights into the best ways to address their unique barriers to adoption. We’re looking forward to compiling one of the most robust data sets regarding broadband adoption and barriers to adoption, and we plan to start conducting those surveys soon.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Connected Nation’s Chief Policy Counsel to Speak on Broadband Adoption Panel

On Tuesday, April 19, Tom Koutsky, Connected Nation’s chief policy counsel, will be a featured panelist in the Broadband Breakfast Club’s monthly discussion on broadband topics. The event will take place from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. (EST) in Washington, D.C.

April’s event, called “Better Broadband Adoption: How to Maximize its Impact and Use,” will feature a panel discussing the economic implications of widespread broadband and how to encourage the use of high-speed Internet by all people, especially those who are reluctant to take part.

Along with Koutsky, the panel will feature:

  • Anna Gomez, deputy assistant secretary for communications and information and deputy administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), U.S. Department of Commerce;
  • Debra Berlyn, executive director, Project to Get Older Adults Online;
  • Sascha Meinrath, director, Open Technology Initiative, New America Foundation;
  • Steve Pastorkovich, business development director and senior policy analyst, Organization for the Promotion and Advancement of Small Telecommunications Companies (OPASTCO); and,
  • BMaynard Scarborough, vice president, government relations and national engagement, One Economy Corporation.
The event will be moderated by Jonathan Charnitski, managing editor at

To learn more about the event, visit

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hacking Puts Spotlight on E-mail Safety

By Heather Gate, Manager, Digital Inclusion Program Development, Connected Nation and Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

Until a few weeks ago, most people had never heard of the online marketing firm Epsilon or gave much thought about how it’s connected to our lives.

Earlier this month, though, Epsilon found itself in an unenviable spotlight when hackers broke into its databases and stole millions of names and e-mail addresses belonging to customers of its corporate clients (the Better Business Bureau offered tips to protect your identity online and listed several of Epsilon’s client companies that may be affected here).

This breach, possibly the largest one in history, included customers of major U.S. companies ranging from national retail chains to numerous banks and credit card companies. Fears about hackers stealing sensitive information is a growing reason why many households still do not subscribe to broadband service. According to Connected Nation’s Residential Technology Assessments, about 4% of non-adopters in Connected Nation states/territories cite concerns about fraud or identity theft as a barrier to home broadband adoption, which equates to about 1 million adults.

To address this concern, the White House publicly released its National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace (NSTIC) today. The NSTIC is an attempt to create an “Identity Ecosystem” through which individuals can validate their identities while conducting sensitive transactions like banking or viewing health records.

This voluntary process, if effective, can go a long way to alleviating individuals’ concerns about online privacy, and it can open the door for more applications being used by a variety of businesses. For example, the creation of a secure online presence can do away with a large stumbling block for e-health applications, namely the fear of sensitive health information getting into the wrong hands.

Of course, this initiative is just one step, and there are several easy steps everyone should take to keep their online identity secure:
  • You should never open e-mail attachments from sources that you don’t know, since they may contain viruses that can infect your computer.
  • If you get an e-mail with an unexpected attachment from someone you know, check with the person who supposedly sent the message to make sure it's legitimate, since hackers can create “spoof” addresses that will appear to come from someone you trust.
  • Avoid clicking on links in the body of an e-mail, especially “.exe” files.
  • If something is obviously spam, don’t even open it, simply delete it or send it directly to a “junk e-mail” folder.
  • Always log off when you are done on your computer.
  • Last but not least, change your passwords (plural, as in, don’t use the same password for every system) often, using strong passwords that aren’t words found in a dictionary and include a combination of letters (upper- and lower-case), numbers, and special characters.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Survey Shows Broadband’s Potential Impact on Healthcare

By Phillip Brown, Director, Government Affairs & Advocacy, Connected Nation

Cisco earlier this week released the results of a survey on health sector innovation, which included findings on the telehealth applications that have the greatest “near-term potential for facilitating large-scale health sector innovation.”

Telemedicine is a broadband-enabled activity that has the potential to greatly improve healthcare delivery in the U.S., and is something Connected Nation has been studying for several years.

Cisco’s survey of healthcare providers from across the globe found that:

“Technologies that combine data exchange with people-to-people interactions help enable easy, efficient professional practices.

  • Collaborating via information and communications technology to diagnose and treat patients was high potential for 65 percent of the respondents.
  • Electronically sharing or accessing diagnostic images, video or patient biometric data was also a high-potential approach for 65 percent of the respondents.
  • Providing clinical training and references via ICT was high potential for 64 percent of the respondents.
  • In contrast, patient care provided via care-at-a-distance models was high potential for only 32 percent of the respondents.”

Connected Nation’s research has found a significant savings to the healthcare sector when broadband adoption increases. Our data show that potential healthcare cost savings in the U.S. could be as much as $662 million per year if broadband adoption increased just seven percentage points.

We’ve also found that, based on research conducted in 13 U.S. states or territories surveying 15,647 adults:

  • 67% of Internet users search for health or medical information online;
  • 36% interact with health insurance companies; and
  • 31% interact with doctors or healthcare professionals online.

Cisco’s survey research data provides great insight into the opportunities and challenges to greater penetration of telemedicine in the healthcare sector, and it’s detailed information like this that helps drive informed initiatives to expand broadband’s usage and utility to consumers and service providers.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

CN's GIS Services Manager Named to Professional Group

Ashley Littell, Connected Nation’s manager of GIS Services, has been named to a select group of GIS professionals.

Littell has been named to the inaugural Vanguard Cabinet (VC) by URISA, the leading association for GIS professionals. The Vanguard Cabinet is a new URISA initiative to engage young GIS practitioners, increase their numbers in the organization, and better understand the concerns facing these future leaders of the GIS community.

“I think URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet will be an exciting opportunity to give young GIS practitioners additional prospects to expand and impact the GIS knowledge base,” Littell said.

“We’re extremely proud of this recognition of Ashley’s talents and experience,” said Tom Ferree, Connected Nation’s chief operating officer. “We at Connected Nation have long recognized her abilities and are glad that the GIS community will now benefit from her talents as well.”

According to URISA, the VC is an advisory board made up of young professionals who represent the young membership of the organization. The Cabinet’s mission is to collaborate with URISA’s Board of Directors and committees in creating and promoting programs and policies of benefit to young professionals. Comprised entirely of young members selected from different geospatial disciplines, the Cabinet aims to position URISA as the center of opportunities for creative young professionals who are committed to improving URISA and the geospatial profession via innovation, collaboration, networking, and professional development.

“For obvious reasons, experience is the major focus of so much professionally that young practitioners and those getting ready to graduate with GIS degrees need as many resources as possible to increase networking abilities and continue learning about the diversity that exists in fields using GIS,” Littell said.

Applicants for the VC submitted a resume and answered questions related to the mission of the Vanguard Cabinet. A Steering Committee reviewed the submissions and selected the first five members of the Cabinet, who will serve a two-year appointment and five additional members will be selected in 2012.

More information about the Vanguard Cabinet is available here.