The Connected Nation Blog: August 2011

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Connect Minnesota Names Hoffman Program Manager

ST. PAUL, MNConnect Minnesota announces the hiring of William Hoffman as the nonprofit’s program manager.

In that role, Hoffman will lead Connect Minnesota’s continuing statewide effort to map broadband availability and increase broadband adoption and use, especially among vulnerable populations. Connect Minnesota’s efforts have been underway since 2008 to bring the economic and quality of life benefits of broadband to all Minnesota residents.

“We know that expanding broadband has a significant economic impact on a state’s residents, and we know Bill’s experience, background, and passion for this mission will be a tremendous asset for the Connect Minnesota program,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of national nonprofit Connected Nation, Connect Minnesota’s parent organization.
Hoffman’s hiring comes on the heels of Governor Mark Dayton’s Executive Order last week establishing the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband. The Task Force is charged with facilitating the expansion of broadband access in Minnesota. Dayton’s stated goal is “border-to-border” high-speed Internet and cell phone access throughout Minnesota.

Prior to joining Connect Minnesota, Hoffman was an independent government and public affairs consultant where he managed legislative and public affairs campaigns for national public policy clients. Hoffman holds a bachelor of arts degree from the Loyola University of New Orleans and a masters of public administration and policy from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs, University of Pittsburgh.

As Connect Minnesota’s program manager, Hoffman’s duties will include promoting collaboration between Connect Minnesota, the Minnesota Department of Commerce, the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband, and local, state, and federal policymakers. In addition, Hoffman will identify specific opportunities for increased residential adoption and economic development, especially through relationships in the private and nonprofit sectors.

“I’m excited to be working with Connect Minnesota,” Hoffman said. “Broadband is and will be a key component of Minnesota’s growth and I look forward to building upon what we’ve already begun. Our state must be a leader in broadband access and adoption and Connect Minnesota is a key partner, together with the private sector and state and local governments, working to ensure Minnesota succeeds.”

Hoffman can be contacted at or (651) 324-2329.

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About Connect Minnesota: As a public-private partnership, Connect Minnesota partners with technology-minded businesses, government entities and universities to accelerate technology in the state. The work of Connect Minnesota is made possible by support from the Minnesota Department of Commerce. For more information about what Connect Minnesota is doing to accelerate technology in Minnesota’s communities, visit

Follow Connect Minnesota on Facebook and Twitter.


Monday, August 29, 2011

Broadband Task Force: Tackling Alaska’s Big Issues

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Alaska

Alaska’s Broadband Task Force is feeling a surge of energy on the heels of its meeting Friday in Anchorage. The event closed a productive three-day visit to the state by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.

Sen. Begich, FCC Chairman, and Task Force in round table discussion
The regular meeting of task force members kicked off in a captivating round table discussion with Alaska’s Senator Mark Begich and the FCC Chairman. Lead by Task Force Chairman Bill Popp, the group spent more than an hour discussing USF reform and its potentially significant impact on the state.

FCC Chairman with USDA and Connected Nation
Beyond policy issues, the Broadband Task Force is embracing an exciting new Community Engagement Toolkit produced by the Connect Alaska initiative. The toolkit will be rolled out over the course of the next month and will provide community-focused organizations with a set of tools and procedures to assess and address broadband access, adoption, and use.
Sen. Begich and FCC meet with Alaska Broadband Task Force
The new Community Engagement Toolkit comes just as the Task Force is focusing on what research and information still needs to be gathered to continue building the best broadband expansion plan for the state. A new website will help in forming that plan by expanding public engagement in the process. The Broadband Task Force is set to launch its new website next month which is being designed and hosted by the University of Alaska.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Building Broadband Infrastructure: Alaska Under Construction

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Alaska

When it comes to Internet connection, there’s simply no state that faces Alaska’s challenges to broadband expansion. The job is immense and expensive, but with life-saving technologies and opportunities for economic growth at stake, it’s clear that the price of continued isolation is even more costly.

Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, USDA RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein & USDA Rural Development Alaska State Director Jim Nordlund

It’s a landscape that Alaska Senator Mark Begich knows well. This week, he’s sharing his experience with the head of the Federal Communications Commission. Chairman Julius Genachowski found himself at a construction site on Thursday that is promising a major step forward in connecting bush Alaska to fast and reliable high-speed Internet. Our team was there with them to see the site of this historic broadband project first-hand. When it’s complete, TERRA-Southwest is set to provide broadband service to 65 communities and more than 9,000 households in the Bristol Bay and Yukon Kuskokwim Delta regions.
Senator Mark Begich leads TERRA-Southwest Ribbon-Cutting

Senator Begich and Chairman Genachowski were joined by Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, USDA, Alaska DCCED, and several of the state’s Broadband Task Force members for a ceremonial ribbon cutting at CGI’s centerpiece construction site near Dillingham. GCI is Alaska's largest telecommunications company. It’s using $88 million made up of both federal loans and stimulus money to build an infrastructure it’s calling, “A historic investment.” According to the company’s website, TERRA-Southwest, “ Will provide the first ever high speed fiber optic and microwave connection to Southwest Alaska.”

The prospect of faster and more reliable broadband service is something that Connect Alaska staff hears excitement about from residents in every town they visit. Quality broadband brings telemedicine, educational opportunities, jobs, and direct access to state and federal government that many Alaska bush villages have never had. And those opportunities are just the tip of the iceberg. Recent Connect Alaska research shows that local business using broadband earn an average of $100,000 more each year in revenue, yet nearly a third either don’t or aren’t able to subscribe.

Kulukak Mountain Microwave Repeater Site
TERRA-Southwest broadband is set to connect to communities by the end of the year. And when area homes and businesses start getting the equipment they need to connect to the new service early next year, it will certainly mark a new era in opportunity for the entire region. In the meantime, state and local leaders are looking carefully at the project as they focus on the Connect Alaska mission of figuring out how to spread quality broadband service to every corner of the state.

For more on the TERRA-Southwest project, you can watch KTUU Channel 2’s “Closer Look” report by reporter Rhonda McBride.

Today, we are covering the Alaska Broadband Task Force meeting and a roundtable discussion with Senator Begich and Chairman Genachowski. Follow us on Twitter for updates:


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Texas Takes Aim at Access, Adoption, and Use

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connected Texas

There’s a new whirlwind of excitement energizing the Connected Texas initiative. That’s the official word after Monday’s meeting with the state’s Broadband Task Force members.

“Everybody involved with Connected Texas at the state level has been very supportive of our mission,” said Connected Texas Executive Director Don Shirley. “We’re anxious to see how we can work together with each of them.”

Shirley took Monday’s meeting in Austin as an opportunity to reiterate Connected Texas’ intensified focus on bringing about better broadband access, adoption, and use across the state.

“We are busy lining up partnerships with several statewide agencies in order to turn our goals into reality,” said Shirley. “We’ve already engaged the Public Utility Commission, the Texas Association of Regional Councils, the State Library, and the Department of Agriculture so we can discuss our tactical needs and see to what extent each of these agencies can support our mission.”

Similar meetings with other agencies are expected to take place over the next several weeks. The meetings will help form a long-term engagement plan for the Connected Texas project that can be implemented on the community and regional levels across the state.


$24 Million Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project Launches

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Enventis Telecom, a subsidiary of HickoryTech, is kicking off a $24 million Greater Minnesota Broadband Collaborative Project on Aug. 25 that will improve high-speed Internet access in rural Minnesota communities.

Project Impact:
• Statewide network will connect 36 rural Minnesota communities in 23 counties
• The fiber network will deliver a minimum of 100 MB broadband Ethernet services to 74 Community Anchor Institutions, including: healthcare facilities, schools, libraries, higher education facilities, and public offices
• More than 886,000 people living in 315,000 households will have access to these low-cost, high-capacity broadband services
• More than 74,000 small and medium size businesses in Minnesota will also have access to this network

This bodes well for the economic future of the communities impacted by this project. The 2010 Connect Minnesota Business Technology Survey indicated that businesses with broadband Internet connections reported having median annual revenues $300,000 more than the state average.

In July, Enventis started construction of the 430-mile fiber optic project, scheduled for completion in 2013. The network will provide affordable, high-capacity broadband services across northern Minnesota. Enventis estimates that the project will create more than 250 jobs.

“I’ve seen first hand around our state the problems with Internet access,” said Sen. Amy Klobuchar (R-MN) speaking this month at another broadband project — the Carver County groundbreaking celebrating the beginning of its new fiber optic ring, which will be over 122 miles long and will connect 86 entities at 56 sites throughout Carver County, Minnesota.

In addressing the economic potential of improved broadband access in the state, Sen. Klobuchar stated that, “…whether you are a gift shop, or a restaurant, or a family farm, or a little start-up company, broadband is the ticket to reaching new customers, selling more products, and growing your business.”

As part of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, Enventis was awarded a $16.8 million grant last August. Over the next two years, an additional $7.2 million will be contributed by the company to the project.

Follow us on Twitter @ConnectMN for updates on broadband projects going on across the state.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Policy & Need: Bringing Broadband to Alaska

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Alaska

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski is in Alaska today kicking off a three-day visit. The chairman plans to spend the rest of the week getting a first-hand look at the state’s critical need for expanded broadband service and the progress being made on some of the solutions to the problem.

The Chairman’s visit is planned to include a tour of the TERRA-Southwest project that is currently under construction and will eventually extend terrestrial broadband service for the first time to Bristol Bay and the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. The Chairman also plans to tour several remote villages across the state and take part in a meeting on Friday with Senator Mark Begich and the Alaska Broadband Task Force.

According to Connect Alaska’s recent Business Technology Assessment study, nearly 6,000 businesses in the state remain unconnected to broadband technology and miss out on an average of $100,000 in added revenue. A similar residential survey is now underway that is expected to clearly quantify what the majority of Alaskans already know: High-speed Internet is desperately needed, but in short supply across the Last Frontier. That leaves most Alaskans cut off from the life-enriching resources of online education, telemedicine, and e-government, not to mention online shopping, entertainment, and the basic communication of e-mail and social media.

Connect Alaska is a statewide public-private partnership working on broadband expansion under a federal grant administered by the state Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development (DCCED). The department recently established the statewide broadband task force chaired by Bill Popp of the Alaska Partnership for Economic Development. The task force is charged with creating a plan for Alaska’s future broadband deployment as well as accelerating the availability of affordable broadband technology throughout the state.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids Program Helps Revitalize Rural Perry County

Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids (C4K) program, Congressman Marsha Blackburn, and several Perry County leaders gathered yesterday to celebrate the donation of computers to Perry County’s “Vision Perry” program, an innovative program that has put hundreds of Perry County citizens back to work over the past two years.

In January 2009, unemployment in Perry County surged to 27 percent, and at that time was the 3rd highest rate in the country. That summer, working with AT&T, Connected Tennessee donated computers to the program, allowing for the creation of a Digital Factory, which put citizens throughout the county back to work and brought the unemployment rate down to a remarkable 17%. Today’s donation marks the next phase of the Vision Perry Digital Factory, which today employs nearly 100 people.

“The VisionPerry program is a perfect illustration of the power of combining technology with public-private partnerships to help revitalize a community and put its citizens back to work,” remarked Congressman Marsha Blackburn. “I commend the work that Connected Tennessee is doing to connect citizens along the county highway to the Digital Highway and congratulate VisionPerry on their worthy achievements.”

While the lack of a four-lane highway and the remoteness in the county have in the past been major obstacles to attracting new business to the area, the “Digital Factory” is conducted entirely using the Internet. With the provision of computers from Connected Tennessee’s Computers 4 Kids program, VisionPerry piloted the Digital Factory Network that has transformed a traditional based manufacturing county into a high-technological area. In its first year as a pilot program, VisionPerry aggressively focused on stimulating a lifeless Perry County. Since its inception, the VisionPerry Digital Factory has transformed itself into a fully-equipped work center which offers training, job placement, and work space. In cooperation with county and local government, Connected Tennessee, the Tennessee Career Center, TDS, AT&T, TVA, Economic & Community Development, Department of Labor, and a dedicated staff, over seventy-five people in the area are currently working as a direct result of the program.

Ten brand new computers were awarded to the Vision Perry program at yesterday’s event, added to the twenty donated in 2009. The event took place at the Commodore Hotel Linden in downtown Linden. City of Linden Mayor Jim Azbill and Perry County Mayor John Carroll were also on hand to show their support of the program.

To date, C4K has distributed nearly 4,000 computers statewide.

Congressman Blackburn shares her thoughts on the power of broadband:

Marsha Blackburn SOTs from Roy Hutchins on Vimeo.


Broadband Provides Critical Functionality During East Coast Earthquake

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Today it seemed like I had been inserted into a science fiction movie as my house in Northern Virginia started sashaying back and forth in a manner that I did not think was possible.

Turns out it was an earthquake, measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale. The National Weather Service reported that the quake was felt in a geographic area spanning from Washington to Chicago and from Atlanta to Toronto.

You ask yourself, is this really happening? Where is everyone and are they all right? Who else is experiencing this? Does anyone else know about this?

For answers, you reach for the phone, which is the first thing to become useless.

Everyone wants to call someone, so the lines immediately become overloaded.

There is no way to describe the initial sense of anxiety when you think your communications have inadvertently been cut off to the outside world.

For me, broadband was a lifeline, allowing me to e-mail my loved ones letting them know that I was doing fine. Also, online tools, like Twitter, gave information to not only my family, friends, and coworkers, but the world in general, mere seconds after it happened.

I find it particularly reassuring, knowing that my Internet connection remained stable and accessible. In a situation like this, broadband can function as a critical information lifeline.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Rural broadband projects in CN states get $25 million

Rural broadband projects in states with Connected Nation programs were today awarded more than $25 million in funding. The Department of Agriculture announced more than $100 million in awards nationally to improve broadband in rural communities

“Without broadband, rural communities, agricultural producers, and business owners face a substantial challenge," Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a news release. "These loans and grants will bring the benefits of broadband, including new educational, business, and public health and safety opportunities, to residents living in some of the most remote parts of our Nation.”

The grants are part of the Community Connect program, which provides grants to rural, economically challenged communities. Funds can be used to construct, acquire, or lease facilities to deploy broadband to community facilities such as schools and public safety buildings, as well as residents and businesses in the community, according to the USDA. Each project requires a matching contribution and must serve an area where broadband is not available. The grantee must agree to provide local community centers in the selected towns with at least 10 computers, which are accessible free for two years.

Coleman County Telephone Cooperative Inc. in Texas was the largest single recipient in Connected Nation states, getting a $22.5 million infrastructure loan.

For more about the awards, see the release here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

White House Rural Council Promotes Expansion of Rural Broadband Access

By Travis Lane, Research Analyst at Connected Nation

Last week, the White House Rural Council released a new report titled Jobs and Economic Security for Rural America which highlights the administration’s key accomplishments in rural communities, as well as the significant challenges that rural Americans still face. The report stresses the importance of expanding broadband access to rural communities, highlighting how broadband helps lower the costs for businesses and brings jobs to rural communities. According to the report, the USDA’s Broadband Initiatives Program under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) has created new or improved broadband service for 2.8 million households, reaching nearly 7 million people and 364,000 businesses across more than 300,000 square miles.

As part of that effort, Connected Nation has studied broadband’s impact on the rural business landscape. Connected Nation research across twelve states and territories shows that more than 160,000 businesses in America’s vulnerable rural communities still do not use broadband technology.

Addressing technology adoption gaps will require a concerted effort between the public and private sectors. Over the next several years, Connected Nation will continue to work with rural businesses, community anchor institutions, and community leaders to address the unique challenges to getting connected to high-speed Internet.

Are you a rural business owner utilizing high-speed broadband Internet? Or, are you on the other side of the digital divide, a business owner who lacks access to broadband? Let us know how technology has affected your rural business on Twitter or Facebook.

South Carolina Focuses On Broadband

Conferences, meetings, and workshops assess broadband’s growth across the state

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Broadband is a powerful, enabling technology that is fast becoming the engine of economic growth in America. Increasingly, businesses seeking to open or expand operations look to see not only whether a community has robust broadband access, but also whether potential workers have digital literacy skills and tools. The economic future of communities in South Carolina depends not only on whether robust broadband infrastructure is present but also whether businesses and individuals fully utilize that technology to grow and develop local economies.

On August 18, the South Carolina Public Service Commission is holding a Broadband Best Practices Workshop where Jerry Pate, South Carolina Telephone Association, Corey Johns, Connected Nation, Tom Fletcher, Department of State Information Technology, Dent Adams, Farmers Telephone Cooperative, Rich Schollman, Century Link, and Rick Wolfe, Comcast, are scheduled to discuss broadband availability, adoption, affordability, and best practices across the state.

Earlier this month, the South Carolina Association of Counties and the Joint SC/NC Cable Television Association conducted events to examine the current level of broadband implementation statewide.

At the December 2010 South Carolina Association of Counties Legislative Conference, Patrick Mason, co-founder of the Center for Carolina Living, introduced the term “turbo tourist” to define a person who visits one or more times to seek employment, open a business, moves to the state to purchase a second home or to retire.

“We like turbo tourists, because they spend more, stay longer, and come back more frequently than the average visitor,” Mason said. “The bad news is that they’re only about six percent of the 29 million tourist who visit each year. So, we need to target the six percent and reach out and attract our fair share of the larger number of tourist if we want to see some economic impact for all of our counties.”

The use of technology may prove to be a viable tool for converting tourists into residents.

A report by Connect South Carolina shows businesses with a broadband connection are likely to generate more revenue and jobs. South Carolina businesses with high-speed Internet connections report having median annual revenues $200,000 more than business without broadband.

While the state’s technological landscape has room for improvement, inroads have been made.

“Connect South Carolina’s research reveals that broadband-connected South Carolina businesses earn twice the revenues of those without broadband” said Ray Sharpe, South Carolina Cable Television Association executive director. “South Carolina’s cable companies are proud of the connectivity we provide that enables these businesses to succeed, grow, and create more jobs for the residents of the Palmetto State.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

President's Iowa Stop Spotlights Broadband as a Major Key to Economic Development

President Obama’s three-day bus tour through a handful of Midwest states is now complete. On Tuesday, the President hosted the Rural Economic Forum at Northeast Iowa Community College in Peosta. That’s where he addressed local farmers, small business owners, private sector leaders, rural organizations, and government officials about ideas and initiatives to promote economic growth, accelerate hiring, and spur innovation in rural communities nationwide.

During the town hall style session, the President spoke directly about goals to strengthen the economy. One major goal of his administration is the modernizing of infrastructure by providing broadband access to 10 million Americans. Broadband access is a major key to expanding educational opportunities for students in rural areas as well as providing affordable and accessible health care.

In a press release from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the agency points to the positive long term impact saying, “These unparalleled rural investments will help ensure that America's rural communities are repopulating, self-sustaining and thriving economically.”


Connect Ohio Shares Broadband Insight with Congressman Latta’s Staff

Connect Ohio staff had the opportunity to discuss broadband in Ohio with Bethany Peck, senior legislative assistant for Congressman Robert Latta (5th District, Ohio), Tuesday.

Congressman Latta is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology. Peck handles telecommunication policy for Congressman Latta and came to Connect Ohio exploring first-hand perspectives on broadband availability throughout the state, existing barriers to expansion, and what the National Broadband Plan can mean for Ohio and beyond.

Connect Ohio Technical Outreach Manager Bart Winegar gave Peck an overview of Connect Ohio’s interactive resource BroadbandStat, which shows by address what households have broadband access and those that are still unserved (according to data gathered from more than 100 broadband providers throughout Ohio). Existing barriers to broadband service in rural areas and approaches to overcoming those barriers were discussed, as well as Connect Ohio’s customized propagation studies and business case analyses available to Ohio communities engaged in finding last-mile broadband connectivity.

“I’m extremely impressed to find Connect Ohio going to every effort to help ensure broadband expansion throughout the state,” said Peck. “The organization’s reporting, county profiles, and online resources are very helpful to us.”

High-speed Internet availability’s affect on economic development was also a key topic of the meeting. Peck was happy to hear of the Every Citizen Online free basic computer and Internet training for Ohio adults and how the program is complementing broadband expansion efforts.

“I really enjoyed meeting with Bethany (Peck) and am happy she found Connect Ohio’s programs beneficial to not only Ohioans, but to Congressman Latta’s staff and possibly the communications and technology subcommittee,” said Winegar


Friday, August 12, 2011

In Advance of the Ames Straw Poll, Iowans Connect With Their Government Online

By Chris McGovern, Manager of Research Development with Connected Nation

Tomorrow, Republican presidential candidates are going to be reaching out to potential voters at the Ames Straw Poll. While the Straw Poll (which has been called a cross between a “political convention and a county fair”) has been going on for over two decades, a portion of Iowans are using more high-tech ways to connect with their government officials.

According to research from Connect Iowa, 69% of Iowa Internet users (representing approximately 1.4 million Iowa adults) go online to use e-government applications.

This includes approximately 886,000 Internet users who go online to search for information or policies and 847,000 who conduct online transactions with government offices (such as e-filing taxes and filling out forms online). In addition, approximately 534,000 adults communicate with Iowa state government offices online, 447,000 go online to communicate with their local government offices, and one out of five (20%, or approximately 399,000 adults) say they use the Internet to stay in touch with elected officials or candidates.

Will you be following the Straw Poll results online? Do you plan to use broadband to get involved in the upcoming election? How do you think the growth in mobile applications will impact the 2012 elections? Let us know on Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I Feel the Need. The Need, for Speed…Test Results

By Phillip Brown, Director of Government Affairs & Advocacy, and Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, both at Connected Nation

Quickly, now – what’s the speed of your broadband connection? If you don’t know, you’re in good company. Connected Nation’s survey research reveals that 59% of consumers don’t know (the FCC is reporting this statistic as higher, with close to 80 percent unaware of their subscription speed), and 60% of businesses don’t know, either. Also interesting, Connected Nation’s research indicates that 23% of broadband subscribers believe their actual speeds are slower than their advertised subscription, 61% tell us their actual speeds are “about the same” as advertised, 6% say their actual speeds are faster than advertised, and 10% are unsure how their actual and advertised speeds match up.

But simply because you may not know the specifics about your broadband speed doesn’t mean that the quality of your Internet connection isn’t important. Internet data usage is growing rapidly thanks to bandwidth-intensive activities like streaming video, and the ability to use a broadband connection for applications such as distance-learning and other rich media services depends upon having accurate and reliable high-speed services.

On Tuesday, the FCC released the initial results of its “TestMyISP” project (which you can find here: - download), one of the key recommendations of the National Broadband Plan. Launched last year with the research firm SamKnows and 10,000 U.S. volunteer households, TestMyISP measures and tracks several aspects of the quality of a user’s fixed broadband connections offered by ISPs nationwide. Importantly, the report primarily focuses on data collected between the peak usage time of 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., one of the typically highest congested times of day for Web traffic.

Among several of the key findings:
  • Depending on the subscriber’s broadband platform, sustained download speeds were between 80 to 90 percent of advertised speeds
  • Speeds during “peak” usage times don’t differ significantly from the 24-hour average speeds
  • The report also includes several great resources for consumers, including:
The TestMyISP results are an important supplement to the National Broadband Map. A well-functioning, transparent broadband market depends on accurate and reliable information that addresses not only the availability of broadband services but also their quality.

A host of factors, however, can impact your Web surfing experience, from the wiring inside your house to the quality of your ISP’s network. Third-party speed tests – which have noted as much as a 50% difference between an “advertised” and “actual” speed – typically do not separate elements within the consumer’s control and the service that the ISP is delivering. And, frankly, figuring out a workable methodology to “map” the actual speeds of every household or Census Block in the U.S. is not a breakthrough anyone in the country has made yet, despite the vocal demands for just that from some quarters of the tech policy world. Believe us, we’ve tried.

The “TestMyISP” project is a great way to generate a nationally significant sample size that can provide realistic assumptions about actual speeds across the nation.

The FCC’s TestMyISP project addresses this gap, by recruiting thousands of U.S. consumers to voluntarily place a specialized “White Box” router in their homes throughout the country. Once connected, the units perform a series of regular tests to those users’ fixed broadband connections. These specialized devices allow the project to test the actual throughput of the ISP’s service, separate and apart from the consumer’s computer, home network, and congestion on the general, public Internet. The project will operate for three years and will test not only speed but also important metrics like latency, packet loss, jitter, DNS query times and failures, Web page loading times, and video streaming quality.

These additional measurements are important, particularly for rich-media applications. For example, latency and packet loss are far more important for real-time applications like VoIP and online gaming than raw download speed. Also, busy-hour service can differ from off-peak quality significantly.

The results of the TestMyISP project has a clear relevance not only to broadband consumers but also to public policy and economic competitiveness. The FCC has proposed to convert its current voice subsidy program to one that will support broadband service at 4 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up – subject to robust validation and verification. Projects such as TestMyISP and the National Broadband Map are critical pieces to the puzzle of providing consumers and policymakers complete and accurate tools for expanding the access to and use of broadband technology.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Texas Businesses and Broadband: A New Study Highlights Importance of High-Speed Internet

Today, Connected Texas released some insightful data on broadband and business in the Lone Star state. This survey, the first of its kind from Connected Texas, shows that a broadband connection for businesses means more revenue, more jobs, and more opportunities for businesses and communities alike.

Throughout this week, Connected Texas will be updating its social media channels with interesting tidbits highlighting some of the key findings of the survey.

Follow Connected Texas on Facebook at and Twitter (@connectedtx) for updates.

In the meantime, check out (and share!) the nifty online display of the data at

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Monday, August 1, 2011

More Than an Age Issue – Internet Adoption and Usage Among Young Adults

By Dev Joshi and Travis Lane, Research Analysts with Connected Nation

While Millennials are some of the most avid users of mobile and Internet technology, Connected Nation’s findings show considerable variance in technology adoption among young adults. Research conducted by Connected Nation in 12 U.S. states and Puerto Rico suggests that broadband adoption and Internet usage are positively correlated to educational attainment.

Nearly three-quarters of 18-24 year olds who have attended college (74%) report subscribing to fixed home broadband service, compared to only 55% of 18-24 year olds who have never attended college. In addition, more than nine out of ten young adults (95%) who have attended college report accessing the Internet (at home or someplace else), compared to only 87% of those who have not attended college (a significantly lower rate of usage).

A new report released by the Pew Internet and American Life Project suggests a similar digital divide based on educational attainment among young adults. When it comes to home broadband access, 95% of undergraduates and 93% of graduate students ages 18-24 report subscribing to a home broadband service, compared to 82% of 18-24 year old non-students and 78% of 18-24 year old community college students.

Connected Nation’s research also shows significant variations in how these two groups of young adults use of the Internet. All Internet-connected young adults turn to the Internet for social interaction, entertainment, and shopping, regardless of educational attainment. However, young adults who have attended college report a significantly higher rate of online banking, searching for health or medical information, teleworking, and conducting online transactions with government.

What does this “App Gap” mean for young people who are entering the workforce straight out of high school? Are there applications that you think are essential for young high school grads to have? Let us know your thoughts on Connected Nation's Facebook or drop us a note on Twitter.