The Connected Nation Blog: September 2011

Thursday, September 29, 2011

More Than 443,000 Children in Puerto Rico Lack Access to Broadband Internet

Current U.S. Census statistics report that Puerto Rico has 431,712 families with children (AVG 1.77 children) do not have broadband at home.

In the 2010 Connect Puerto Rico Residential Technology Assessment data indicated that over 250,608 households, or roughly 443,000 children (AVG 1.77 x 250K), do not have broadband service at home.

Broadband has the potential to become a critical key for opening doors to social inclusion and economic empowerment. The lack of this essential utility places households at a distinct disadvantage.

Our research estimates that of the approximately 17 million children nationwide who do not have broadband at home, 7.6 million are in low-income families. The majority of those disconnected low-income children are ethnic minorities — approximately 1.75 million African-Americans and 2.9 million Hispanic children. These children simply do not have the ability to do online research, complete assignments, or interact with their teachers and fellow students on-line at home.

Studies have shown that children without broadband access are less likely to graduate high school, and when those children enter the workforce, their employment potential is significantly diminished.

Help us continue to bring broadband to more homes and businesses in Puerto Rico by getting involved.

Follow Connected Nation and Connect Puerto Rico on Twitter.


Broadband is more available and higher speeds are becoming more common in many Michigan counties

Connect Michigan today released an updated assessment of the broadband market in Michigan. Data collected and reflected in this update indicate much higher broadband availability in many Michigan counties, both at higher speed tiers and by certain platforms, than the data collected in the fall of 2010. The report was public online on Connect Michigan's website. 

Key findings from this report:
(Note: The data in this report are subject to data validation.)

• From October 2010 to April 2011, the data indicate a change from 121,701 to 87,786 unserved households (or 2.32% of total households), a drop of over 27 percentage points.

• Increases were estimated across all speed tiers, including a jump from 11.4% to 37.25% in households that can subscribe to 25 Mbps download or greater. The 50 Mbps speed tier availability grew from 4.32% to 21.74% of households.

The report indicates increases in the number of providers offering cable, fiber, fixed wireless, and mobile wireless platforms.

The report was conducted in partnership with the Michigan Public Service Commission and the Michigan Collaborative Broadband Committee as part of the Michigan State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program.

In May of 2010, Connect Michigan produced an initial map of broadband availability to identify served and unserved areas across the state. Since the initial map’s release, Connect Michigan has collected and released new data every six months, with updates in October 2010 and April 2011.

Follow Connect Michigan on Facebook or Twitter.


Monday, September 26, 2011

A Broadband Success Story in Lower Northern Michigan

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Clare County, Michigan has rolling hillsides, heavy foliage, and low-density housing which makes the county aesthetically appealing and technologically challenged. The landscape has natural barriers that could hamper high-speed Internet development and possibly undermine economic growth. Perhaps that’s why the county is noted for having the second highest poverty rate of all Michigan counties.

Fewer than 30,000 residents spread out over roughly 13,000 households populate this stretch of approximately 566 square miles. Many residents of rural Clare County went without broadband service until a couple of years ago, because high-speed Internet service providers had forecast a minimal probability for earning a reasonable return on investment due to the demographics and the location of the population centers in the area.

In the summer of 2009, a group of concerned citizens and elected officials from Clare County, incorporated communities of Clare and Harrison, and multiple townships initiated impromptu connectivity conversations that morphed into structured brainstorming meetings. Determined that government should only act as a catalyst for commercial enterprise, the township group hammered out an arrangement for a public/private partnership to approach the fulfillment of this need.

“It basically came down to a bunch of people that knew each other, trusted each other, that had common goals and desires,” said Steve Kingsbury, City of Clare finance director. “Each individual brought different things to the table and that’s how we got started.”

The original plan was to connect all the governmental entities with fiber and go wireless from there. That would create a portal of wider support for businesses that did not otherwise have service.

Around this time an ISP had shown interest in providing wireless service to the region and when approached by the township group, Jeff Hall, of ISP Management, said he would be up to taking on the topographical challenges of the area.

Each township bore the financial responsibility to erect strategically located towers and then allow ISP Management free access to the structure. In return, the plan called for ISP Management to provide free broadband service to Community Anchor Institutions.

Terry Holmes, senior technologist for Connected Nation, the parent organization of Connect Michigan, has been assisting the Clare County group by developing propagation maps that locate and optimize new fixed wireless transmission towers.

“It is an underlying theme with this group that there are no egos or personal interest that stand in their way of bringing broadband to their constituents,” said Holmes. “It is all about the betterment of their communities.”

“The lack of high structures and the area population configurations provide some significant challenges,” said Jeff Hall, president of ISP Management. “But this type of an arrangement is a win-win situation because it makes fiscal sense for the townships and it allows me to make a business case for providing service to an area where it was previously not viable.”

To date, a fiber presence has been developed in several of the governmental and Community Anchor Institution buildings of each of the communities involved. Three communications towers have been constructed and a fourth is currently being erected that will serve the entire eastern side of Clare County.

ISP Management entered into agreements with the townships with a recouping model where the provider can connect to the grid and, in turn, provide wireless Internet connectivity to as many residents as technologically possible. In exchange for the provider being on the tower to offer Internet service to local residents as a commercial product, ISP Management is carrying all the governmental traffic back to an access point on the tower where it is then picked up by the governmental grid.

“Everyone involved is humbly gratified at the progress that we have made in getting the governmental side of the network setup and running efficiently and in a fiscally sound manner while simultaneously providing Internet service to the unserved and underserved in the county,” Kingsbury said.

“The Clare County broadband group has made incredible progress to ensure residents, municipalities, and businesses have access to broadband,” said Eric Frederick, program manager for Connect Michigan. “We at Connect Michigan are excited to work with the group to help them ensure that their residents have access to the unlimited benefits of broadband availability and to link every community in Michigan to economic opportunity.”


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Plugging the Digital Divide In Minnesota

From Connect Minnesota:

Anoka County and Zayo break ground on the Connect Anoka County high speed Internet project

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

A Highway 50 Reminder of How the West was Won

By Lindsey Niedzielski, Program Manager, Connect Nevada

Highway 50 shouldn’t be called the “loneliest road in America” as it’s so often referred to. In fact, once the route of the Pony Express, this road is vibrant with travelers, construction projects, and frontier communities. With a rich history in receiving information, it is no wonder residents are craving new technology and faster download speeds.
Nevada's Highway 50

In Eureka, the Opera House hosts events from concerts to quilt shows drawing residents from all across Eureka and White Pine - mostly by word of mouth. In White Pine County, only 68.65% of residents have access to 3 Mbps download Internet speed as compared to 23.57% in Eureka. In some of the more outlying areas like Baker, they have trouble making a cell phone call. What could they do with a better connection?

These communities, once the anchors of the state of Nevada, rich in copper, gold, and silver, are seeing an economic boom in mining. Now, it is only a matter of infrastructure holding the areas back from again becoming the heartbeat of Nevada. Mt. Wheeler Power is one regional broadband provider that is working with Connect Nevada to bring better broadband to the area. Connect Nevada also recently presented to the White Pine County Commissioners to begin planning for expansion in the region.

Labels: ,

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

17 Million Children Lack Broadband at Home – Many of them in Low-Income Households

By Tom Koutsky
Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

Broadband has the potential to be the “great equalizer” in our society (to quote FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski) – but unequal adoption and use of broadband can institutionalize economic and social inequality. If nearly two-thirds of low-income minority households do not have broadband at home, what does that mean for their educational and employment prospects five and ten years from now? What will the education landscape look like if two-thirds of students can integrate classroom teachings and lectures into their homework and assignments?

So while many families were enjoying summer break this year, here at Connected Nation we spent our summer asking those questions, interviewing over 27,000 consumers on whether and how they used broadband, and exploring in detail the reasons why one-third of all households do not have broadband service at home. Over the next few weeks, we will be releasing the results of these surveys, with the goal of zeroing in on particularly challenging and vulnerable populations.

Today, the first of these studies, (The Adoption Gap in Low-Income Families with Children) contains findings that are particularly important for education and communications policy. We find that—

• Approximately 17 million children do not have broadband at home – and that approximately 7.6 million of these children live in low-income households

• Only 37% of low-income minority households with children have broadband at home, and only 46% of all low-income households with children have broadband at home

40% of low-income households do not own a computer, while 91% of all other households have this technology at home

• For low-income households, the cost of access and computer ownership is by far the most-cited reason why they do not adopt broadband

But it is one thing to identify a gap — it is quite another thing to solve it. And Connected Nation research points the way. We made it a point to speak to over 15,000 non-adopting households, to find out what motivated that decision – and to find out what might change their minds.

For low-income households with children, cost is by far the largest barrier to adoption. This research indicates that bundled service discount programs like Comcast’s Internet Essentials, which is being launched in Washington, DC today, have the potential to close this gap.

Importantly, our 2011 survey results reveal an important trend. For the population as a whole, the cost of access or a computer is cited by nearly one-third of all non-adopters as the main reason for not adopting broadband.

Click here to download the white paper and see more of the results of this survey.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Connect Ohio Staff Takes Part in Community Care Day

On Tuesday, Connect Ohio staff participated in United Way of Central Ohio’s 2011 Community Care Day
by assisting in yard work and landscape beautification at Alvis House’s Administration Office. Alvis House provides programs and services for individuals transitioning from being involved in the criminal justice system to re-entering the community. Alvis House also works with the families of those individuals and with those who may be at risk of entering into criminal behavior. In addition, the organization operates supported living and residential programs for individuals with developmental disabilities.

Nine Connect Ohio employees worked alongside Alvis House maintenance personnel clearing overgrown brush, leaves, and trash, as well as weeding and hedge trimming the landscape surrounding the building.

Community Care Day is the largest one-day volunteer outreach in central Ohio and is an opportunity for teams of employees from companies throughout Columbus to volunteer. This year’s event included 3,000 volunteers from 150 companies involved in nearly 200 projects.

Pictured left to right: Dave Matusoff, Benj Foor, Brad Fuller, Katie Beaumont, Bart Winegar, Amanda Murphy, Nicole Smolic, Jeff Beebe, and Heather Delany
See additional photos on the Connect Ohio Facebook page,, as well as the Alvis House Facebook page


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Public Computer Centers Help Fight Nevada’s War on Unemployment

By Lindsey Niedzielski, Program Manager, Connect Nevada

In Las Vegas, an area 73% of Nevadans call home, unemployment rates are almost 14%. That reality is leading organizations like the Las Vegas Urban League to help the community by getting people back to work. As a recipient of a Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant totaling $4.68 million, Las Vegas Urban league has opened 31 public computing centers at various locations throughout Las Vegas and Henderson. The Nevada Public Computer Centers in Clark County are currently open to the public and offer free computer and Internet access.

Starting Sept. 12, a free job readiness program will also be offered. This program, offered in modules, will be a self-contained course that can be tailored to a specific target group, for example people interested in the retail or service industry. People who participate in these modules can expect to learn skills related to finding a job, building a resume, and interviewing with potential employers. These skills will empower participants to succeed in today’s digital job market. Visit the Las Vegas Urban League or the Nevada Public Computing Centers for more information.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

TARC Focuses on Technology Expansion

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connected Texas

The Texas Association of Regional Councils (TARC) is gearing up for its annual Conference on Regionalism this week in Fort Worth.

TARC is a statewide association of 24 regional councils of governments (COGs). The COGs work together to deal with the problems and planning needs that cross the boundaries of individual local governments or that require regional attention. Regional councils operate programs ranging from public safety and emergency preparedness to human and social services. Texas’ regional councils are instrumental in the planning and expenditure of funds that come from local, state, and federal sources.

This year’s conference will cover many topics of common interest, but the Connected Texas mission of broadband access, adoption, and use will be one of the key focuses.

A live Twitter Town Hall on the topic is scheduled for Thursday, September 15. Connected Texas, in partnership with TARC and the Texas Department of Agriculture, is inviting everyone to discuss broadband expansion in Texas and how it will impact communities across the state. TARC leaders will answer questions live starting at 9:50 a.m. CST.

The three-day TARC event kicks off at 8 a.m. CST Wednesday, September 14, at the Fort Worth Sheraton.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Puerto Rican Businesses Use Broadband in Unique Ways

Puerto Rican businesses use technology in ways that make the territory stand out and highlight ways that the territory’s unique character has influenced its workforce. To better understand the impact that broadband has had on Puerto Rico’s business landscape, Connect Puerto Rico conducted a Business Technology Assessment of 814 Puerto Rico business establishments in 2010. Some of the findings are displayed below:

• Nearly seven out of ten (69%) Internet-connected businesses utilize online banking. This is the most-cited use of the Internet among businesses in Puerto Rico

• Many Puerto Rican businesses are new broadband adopters, as Puerto Rican businesses are significantly more likely than average to say they began using broadband less than a year ago

• Among small Puerto Rican businesses (those with fewer than five employees), businesses that sell goods or services online report that over one-third (36.3% on average) of their sales revenues come from online transactions

• In addition, broadband helps empower Puerto Rico’s workforce by enabling workers to telework. Across Puerto Rico, 13% of businesses (approximately 6,000) allow employees to telework. By comparison, 23% of businesses in states/territories served by Connected Nation allow their employees to telework.

Help us continue to bring broadband to more homes and businesses in Puerto Rico by getting involved. Follow Connected Nation and Connect Puerto Rico on Twitter.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kuhlers Named Connect Iowa Program Manager

Des Moines, IA Connect Iowa announces the hiring of Amy Kuhlers as state program manager.

In that role, Kuhlers will lead Connect Iowa’s continuing statewide effort to increase broadband adoption and use throughout the Hawkeye State. Connect Iowa has been leading the way since 2009 to bring the economic and quality of life benefits of broadband to all Iowa residents.

“We know that expanding broadband has a significant economic impact on a state’s residents, and we know Amy’s experience, background, and passion for this mission will be a tremendous asset for the Connect Iowa program,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of national nonprofit Connected Nation, Connect Iowa’s parent organization.

As Connect Iowa’s program manager, Kuhlers’ duties will include promoting collaboration between Connect Iowa, the Iowa Economic Development Authority, the public arm of the Iowa Partnership for Economic Progress, and local, state, and federal stakeholders. Kuhlers will also be responsible for spreading awareness of the benefits of broadband, gathering and sharing information on best practice programs, and publicly demonstrating program impact and progress in communities across the state.

“Part of our job is to ensure communities are development-ready, so expanding broadband connectivity is essential,” said Debi Durham, director of the Iowa Economic Development Authority. “We are glad to have Amy on our team to provide experience and focus.”

Prior to joining Connect Iowa, Kuhlers was a program manager of Iowa at the University of Northern Iowa’s Regional Business Center. In this role, Kuhlers provided support, counseling, and resource assistance to Iowa businesses. She holds an associate of arts degree and an associate of science degree from North Iowa Area Community College, a bachelor of arts degree in business management / entrepreneurship from Buena Vista University in Storm Lake, and is currently completing a masters of public administration from Drake University in Des Moines.

“I’m excited to have the opportunity to contribute to Iowa’s continued economic growth, as well as helping to increase broadband adoption and connectivity for individuals all across the state,” said Kuhlers. “By working towards increased broadband accessibility, Iowa’s communities can realize new development potential as they move towards the future, and I look forward to helping make this possible through my role with Connect Iowa.”

Kuhlers can be contacted at or (877) 846-7710.

Follow Connect Iowa on Facebook and Twitter.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Broadband Adoption in the Metro Detroit Area

By Dev Joshi, Research Analyst for Connected Nation

Broadband expansion (in both urban and rural communities) is vital because of the numerous economic, educational, and social benefits it can offer. Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon recently said, "Expanded mobile broadband coverage is very important in the fight to keep the streets of Detroit and Wayne County safe … Stronger signals and faster connections give law enforcement instant access to the information we need during critical investigations and keep our officers connected.”

In the Detroit Metropolitan Statistical Area (which includes Wayne, Macomb, and Oakland counties), approximately 1.9 million adults subscribe to home broadband service, representing 77% of adults in the region. In Wayne County, though, that percentage drops to 68% (still slightly above the state average), meaning that approximately 325,000 Wayne County residents don’t have home broadband service. In fact, Connect Michigan estimates that approximately 143,000 adults living in Wayne County (or 14%) do not use the Internet at all.

How does broadband affect you and your community? Tell us your story or visit us on Facebook to tell us your story.

Frederick Named Connect Michigan Program Manager

Lansing, MIConnect Michigan announces the hiring of Eric Frederick as state program manager.

In that role, Frederick will lead Connect Michigan’s continuing statewide effort to increase broadband adoption and use throughout the state. Connect Michigan has been leading the way since 2009 to bring the economic and quality of life benefits of broadband to all Michigan residents.

“We know that expanding broadband has a significant economic impact on a state’s residents, and we know Eric’s experience, background, and passion for this mission will be a tremendous asset for the Connect Michigan program,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of national nonprofit Connected Nation, Connect Michigan’s parent organization.

As Connect Michigan’s program manager, Frederick’s duties will include developing and leading a coordinated initiative for broadband capacity building, continued broadband inventory mapping, local and regional technology planning, technical assistance, and ultimately, increased broadband adoption and digital literacy.

Prior to joining Connect Michigan, Frederick worked for LSL Planning, Inc. as a project planner. He holds a master of urban and regional planning from Michigan State University and a bachelor of science degree with a major in planning and a minor in Geographic Information Systems from Northern Michigan University.

“I’m excited to join the Connect Michigan team and use my experience to empower Michigan communities as they plan for a technology-led economic revival,” said Frederick. “In partnership with federal, state, private, non-profit, and local community organizations, Connect Michigan will ensure our state is a model for broadband access, adoption, and use. Broadband improves quality of life and provides one more reason Michigan is a great place to live, work, and play.”

Frederick can be contacted at (517) 994-8024 or

Follow Connect Michigan on Facebook and Twitter.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Technology Report Shows how Broadband Makes Good Business Sense in South Carolina

A study released today by Connect South Carolina shows the economic benefits businesses gain from using broadband. The research, which can be found at, illustrates the impact of broadband on South Carolina businesses and highlights differences in revenues between businesses with and without broadband, the number of businesses that increase their revenues by using the Internet, and the number of businesses that empower their employees to telework.

Across South Carolina, businesses that subscribe to broadband report median annual revenues that are $200,000 higher than businesses that do not use broadband. South Carolina businesses that subscribe to broadband and maintain a website report median annual revenues that are $300,000 higher than businesses that do not use broadband at all.

While broadband-connected businesses tend to earn higher median annual revenues than their peers who do not subscribe, this difference is most pronounced among rural businesses. Rural South Carolina businesses with broadband have median annual incomes that are $500,000 greater than their peers without broadband.

From an employment perspective, three out of four Internet-connected South Carolina businesses in the Agriculture, Mining, Construction, and Utilities sectors bid on contracts online, effectively increasing the workforce opportunities.

Connect South Carolina is a statewide public-private partnership working on broadband expansion. The new Business Technology Assessment reveals how technology is being used by businesses and where gaps still remain across the state. The assessment is designed to measure technology adoption and the awareness of available broadband service among state businesses, and establish benchmarks for these metrics.

Help us continue to bring broadband to more homes and businesses in South Carolina by getting involved. Follow @ConnectedNation and/or @Connectsc.