The Connected Nation Blog: October 2011

Monday, October 31, 2011

Beware of Online ‘Tricks’ This Halloween

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

Are you afraid of hackers this Halloween?

This Halloween, many businesses are scared of more than ghosts and goblins – they’re looking out for malicious “tricks” played by computer hackers. Today marks the end of National Cyber Security Awareness Month, and according to Connected Nation’s 2010 Business Technology Assessment, about one in twelve businesses said they do not subscribe to broadband service due to concerns about fraud or identity theft. If this figure is extrapolated across the country, it represents nearly 600,000 business establishments that say that these concerns are preventing them from going online.

This has important economic repercussions. In a speech to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last week, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski pointed out that, on average, each cyberattack against a small-or-medium-sized business costs the business about $200,000. 

To help businesses feel more secure online, the FCC (along with partners from both the public and private sectors) plans to release a new Small Biz Cyber Planner in November. This tool will help businesses assess their online security needs and create a customized plan to ensure that their networks remain safe from hackers.

Have you (or your business) been the victim of a cyberattack? Tell us your scary story of the efforts you had to go through in order to make things right at our website, or visit us on Facebook or Twitter.


Thursday, October 27, 2011

CN Applauds Connect America Fund Creation

Connected Nation's CEO Brian Mefford offered the following statement on the FCC's Connect America Fund:

Connected Nation congratulates and commends the Federal Communications Commission today for creating the Connect America Fund. Too many parts of our country simply do not have access to broadband networks, and closing that gap is particularly important for the economic development and vitality of our nation's rural areas. Funding for infrastructure is often a crucial missing piece in our community engagement program. We look forward to working with the Commission, our state partners, industry, and anchor institutions like schools and libraries in helping the communities Connected Nation serves overcome this substantial gap.

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FCC to Create $4 Billion Connect America Fund

By Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

Every year, the FCC's Universal Service Fund provides over $4 billion for telephone companies to provide voice service in "high-cost" areas. A companion program compensates providers for completing telephone calls, with rates that vary based on technology used to make the call, be it a wireless phone, a traditional telephone, or an Internet service like Skype.

Forms of this program have been in place for over 95 years - a time when about 13 percent of U.S. households had a telephone, about 7 million dialtone lines - about the same number of iPhones that Apple expects to sell this month.

As consumers and businesses have adopted broadband, cracks in those creaky voice service subsidies are widening. The result is that while over $8 billion per year - funded by a 15 percent fee on everyone's phone bill - is spent on this program, immense gaps have emerged:

•18 million Americans do not have access to broadband networks. In places like Alaska and Tribal Lands, these access gaps are wide.

•Over 100 million Americans have not adopted broadband at home - one-third of the country. For low-income households, adoption is nearly half that rate, 38 percent. In Puerto Rico, the vast majority of schoolchildren do not have home broadband service.

•High-speed broadband by Community Anchor Institutions is not keeping pace. For example, according to the American Library Association, 45 percent of all public libraries say their broadband connection speed is insufficient for needs. Only one in five rural libraries have a fiber optic connection - and only two-thirds of urban libraries have such connectivity.

•Create a $150 million Tribal wireless fund, which will include Native Villages in Alaska, and propose to create a dedicated remote area fund.

Today, the FCC is attempting to start to close the access gap, particularly in high-cost, rural areas. The federal USF funnels approximately $4.7 billion per year in subsidies for carriers to provide voice service. Shifting that program to support broadband networks instead will be complicated, messy, and contentious. Essentially, the FCC's goal is to re-cut the pieces of that $4.7 billion-sized pie and redistribute it among broadband and voice segments.

We will be following the FCC's decision today and summarizing it here. We expect that the FCC will announce:

•A plan to use broadband mapping data to identify areas of the country without broadband and shift $4 billion away from voice subsidies to fund network construction in those areas in the next five years.

•Create a $300-400 million per year Mobility Fund that will fund wireless infrastructure projects in communities without adequate wireless data service, and

•Transition the current per-minute intercarrier regime to a uniform rate system.

Stay tuned here for more details as the FCC takes its vote and releases more information.

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Governor Snyder Sees Broadband as an Essential Element for Michigan’s Revitalization

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

“From government and schools to hospitals and private industry, our cyber networks are integral to Michigan’s infrastructure, economic growth, and quality of life.”

Connect Michigan applauds Governor Rick Snyder for recognizing broadband as a vital component for revitalizing Michigan’s declining infrastructure.

“Broadband is one of the infrastructures of the future,” said Gov. Snyder yesterday in his Special Message to the Legislature on Infrastructure. That is why, since 2009, the Michigan Public Service Commission has been partnering with Connect Michigan to engage in a comprehensive broadband planning and technology initiative.

Connect Michigan is working to assess the local technology framework, establish goals, and develop action plans for expanding broadband throughout the state. Additionally, the program has been benchmarking broadband expansion and availability information statewide.

These efforts will assist the Governor with recommendations he made yesterday to:

• Leverage new investment and develop a unified vision with regard to broadband
access and use in Michigan, with special attention to the rural areas in our state
• Work with private-sector broadband providers to help close the “digital divide” with better coordination, shared resources, more training, and greater investment

In the Governor’s White Paper of the presentation, he cited data from the Connect Michigan Residential Technology Survey to point out that the, “use of high-speed broadband is also a game-changer for our citizens. Yet, only 67% of Michigan households chose to have a broadband connection in the home.”

“The results of the residential broadband survey will allow Michigan stakeholders to have more detailed information available for broadband planning strategies as we move forward,” said Robin Ancona, director of the Telecommunications Division, Michigan Public Service Commission.

For more information about what Connect Michigan is doing to accelerate technology in Michigan’s communities, visit

Follow Connect Michigan on Facebook or Twitter.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Connect Florida Releases 2011 Residential Broadband Adoption Survey Results

28% of Florida residents are not subscribing to broadband at home

Tallahassee, FL – Today, Connect Florida released new residential broadband adoption survey results revealing the top trends in technology use among key demographics in Florida. The preliminary indicators from the survey are available online and give a comprehensive view of the challenges and opportunities for expanding broadband in targeted sectors. Approximately 28% of Florida residents are not subscribing to broadband at home. Most notably, the majority of low-income households are without broadband at home, leaving them facing an uphill battle in keeping up with essential online resources, job and educational opportunities, and social services.

“The broadband adoption gap affects us all – it affects the economic future of our communities, it affects the education of our children, and it affects the economy’s potential for job growth,” said Tom Koutsky, chief policy counsel for Connected Nation, Connect Florida’s parent organization. “But there are no simple solutions to what is a multifaceted problem. Our state-based research into the demographic, economic, and digital skill barriers to adoption is a crucial first step that will help government and communities tailor and target effective broadband adoption solutions.”

This survey is conducted in support of Connect Florida’s efforts to close the state’s digital gap. The survey explores the main barriers to adoption – cost, digital skills, and relevance – and also provides unique insights into the national broadband landscape.

375,000 people living in rural areas do not subscribe to broadband service at home.

72% of all households subscribe to broadband - higher than the national average of 65%.

• When compared to the 72% of all households that do subscribe, there remain large gaps among key demographics:
  • 59% of low-income households;
  • 39% of Hispanic households; and
  • 43% of seniors are without broadband.
267,000 children in low-income households are without access to this essential tool at home.

826,000 Florida adults say a lack of digital skills and knowledge of how to use a computer and broadband are the main reasons they don’t have broadband at home.

• The biggest gap is among low-income seniors. Only 26% of low-income seniors subscribe to broadband and only 54% have a computer at home.

Last week, Connect Florida released its broadband and business trends report showing that 74% of Florida’s business establishments use broadband, and those that do report having median annual revenues $130,000 greater than businesses without broadband.

The consumer adoption trends results and comparisons are available on Connect Florida’s new consumer trends widget. This interactive tool gives people the ability to view, share, and download the results. Connect Florida will use these survey results to target solutions in communities based on the demographic and economic barriers that the surveys indicate are most relevant to those communities.

This release comes on the heels of the FCC’s newly released plans to launch a comprehensive public-private initiative called Connect to Compete, aimed at extending digital literacy training and providing employment assistance to communities. Connect Florida’s parent organization, Connected Nation, is one of the top strategic advisors in the national initiative.

Connect Florida’s 2011 residential survey was conducted in the summer of 2011 and includes responses from 1,203 residents. The survey was conducted as part of the State Broadband Initiative (SBI) grant program, funded by the U.S. Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.


Monday, October 24, 2011

5 Tips for Protecting Your Identity Online

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month.
Below are tips to help you stay safe online:

1. Look at a Website’s privacy policy - Before submitting your name, e-mail address, or other personal information on a website, look for the site's privacy policy.
2. Look for evidence that your information is being encrypted - To protect attackers from hijacking your information, any personal information submitted online should be encrypted so that it can only be read by the appropriate recipient.
3. Do business with credible companies – Work with websites certified by an Internet trust organization such as BBBonline, TRUSTe, or WebTrust? Sites that display these logos have agreed to follow certain practices like providing a comprehensive privacy statement
4. Do not use your primary e-mail address in online submissions - Submitting your e-mail address could result in spam. If you do not want your primary e-mail account flooded with unwanted messages, consider opening an additional e-mail account for use online
5. Take advantage of options to limit exposure of private information - Default options on certain websites may be chosen for convenience, not for security. For example, avoid allowing a website to remember your password. If your password is stored, your profile and any account information you have provided on that site are readily available if an attacker gains access to your computer. Also, evaluate your settings on websites used for social networking.

Other Useful Sites and Information Sources


Friday, October 21, 2011

Making Universal Service Truly “Universal”

By Tom Koutsky, Chief Policy Counsel, Connected Nation

This month the Federal Communications Commission is poised – at last – to take a strong and definitive step forward in shifting the nation’s complex subsidy system for telephone service to one that directly supports broadband. Reforming this system is important, as there are significant differences in broadband availability across the country. Undertaking that reform is difficult and complex – as one would expect with any $8.7 billion per year subsidy program.
But as a society, we cannot not lose sight of the gaping broadband adoption and utilization gap.

As Connected Nation’s Consumer Broadband Adoption Trends report shows, more than 1/3 of Americans have not adopted broadband. Wide swaths of our society are at risk of being left behind – an Internet underclass that could have a longstanding, significant, and detrimental economic and social impact.
Even a sample of these gaps is startling:
  • 31.6 million rural residents do not subscribe to broadband – more than the population of Texas and Wisconsin combined.
  • Only 38% of low-income households in Iowa have broadband at home.
  • Only 15% of low-income seniors in Nevada subscribe to broadband.
  • 17 million children don’t broadband at home, 7.6 million of them in low-income households.
  • Barely half of Hispanic households (51%) subscribe to broadband.
  • 15.4 million adults say that the lack of digital skills is the reason they don’t subscribe to broadband.
  • Our study also shows that the barriers to broadband adoption are complex – cost is important, but so are digital skills, training, and awareness.
To achieve truly “universal” broadband, our society needs to do more than make sure that broadband networks are available – we need to make sure that adoption and use is universal as well. While networks are expensive to build, building them may in fact be the easy part – cracking the code on making sure all Americans use this technology is the key to unlocking the economic and social value of those networks.

To meet this challenge, last week Connected Nation was pleased and proud to have joined with the FCC, private companies, and other noted non-profits in the Connect To Compete initiative, which will promote digital literacy efforts nationwide.

And yesterday, Connected Nation, with the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council and One Economy, have endorsed an innovative approach to broadband adoption suggested by Aspen Institute Fellow Blair Levin, leader of the National Broadband Plan effort. Because the nation’s adoption and use challenge is multifaceted, this proposal would provide federal support to a myriad of both large and small-scale public-private adoption programs. Support for public-private adoption programs would be awarded through a competitive application and review process, similar to the Department of Education’s Race to the Top and Investing in Innovation (i3) grant programs.

These adoption programs can and should work in concert with subsidies for building networks. A low adoption rate directly affects the economics of broadband deployment.

One example is Puerto Rico, where we are working directly with the government and stakeholders in their broadband strategic plan. Forty percent of Puerto Rico households are below the poverty line, and the overall household broadband adoption rate is only 31%, less than half of the national average. Does anybody doubt that these low adoption numbers help account for the fact that broadband availability in Puerto Rico, at even the most basic of speeds, is far, far behind every state? And since it’s so obvious, wouldn’t it be foolish to subsidize network construction in Puerto Rico without establishing a comprehensive broadband adoption and training program at the same time?

The pattern applies across the country. Low adoption rates are partly responsible for lagging investment in broadband capacity. As such, promoting adoption should be an integral part of the FCC’s strategy to ensure universal broadband access at ever higher speeds. This is why Connected Nation and our partners support Blair Levin’s proposal.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Alaska Native Leaders Being Offered a Direct Voice in State Broadband Planning

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Alaska

There is truly no place in America in greater need of broadband access, adoption, and use than bush Alaska. This week, village leaders from across the state are getting an opportunity to start changing that with an important workshop being held at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention.

Thousands of Native leaders are in Anchorage, representing some of the state’s most isolated populations. One-hour discussion-style Connect Alaska workshops are being held at four different times over the course of the convention to help give the village leaders a voice in planning for the expansion on quality broadband service in their regions.

“High-speed Internet is a critical modern lifeline to crucial services that support and improve quality of life,” said Connect Alaska Project Coordinator Therese Dolan. “Telemedicine, educational opportunities, jobs, and government services including future Alaska PFD submissions all depend largely on broadband access, adoption, and use.”

AFN workshop attendees will learn about the community support, tech support, relationship advocacy, and other free resources that are available to them through the Connect Alaska initiative. The Connect Alaska workshops are planned for the Tubughnenq’ Room of the Dena’ina Civic and Convention Center. The sessions are scheduled for:

Thursday, October 20
2:00 - 3:00 p.m.
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Saturday, Oct 22
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.
3:00 - 4:00 p.m.

The AFN Convention is the largest representative annual gathering in the United States of any Native peoples. Delegates are elected on a population formula of one representative per 25 Native residents in the area and delegate participation rates at the annual convention typically exceed 95 percent. Each year the AFN Convention draws between 4,000–5,000 attendees.


Connecting Florida: The Link Between Broadband and Business’ Bottom-Line

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Florida

Twenty-six percent of Florida businesses are missing out on an average of $130,000 in annual revenue. That’s the finding of a new report from Connect Florida. The nonprofit recently completed the state’s first Business Technology Assessment. Its findings confirm that Florida businesses with a broadband connection generate more revenues and potential jobs.

The study was conducted by Connect Florida, in coordination with the Florida Department of Management Services (DMS). It found that 74% of Florida’s businesses currently use broadband, but estimates that approximately 134,000 Florida businesses are still missing out on the benefits of the technology.

Connect Florida plans to work with local leaders and broadband providers in applying the data to expand broadband availability across the state.

“In our digital economy, businesses must embrace broadband, and other transformative technologies like it, in order to survive,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation, Connect Florida’s parent organization. “The Internet is driving products and services to the marketplace in an environment where creativity and innovation are both reinforced and rewarded.”

Internet-connected businesses in Florida report earning 32% of their revenue from online transactions. Additionally, nearly one-quarter of state businesses allow employees to telework.

The Business Technology Assessment is the first of its kind and takes an in-depth look at all sectors of the state’s economy. For more information, please visit the Connect Florida website at


Monday, October 17, 2011

5 Tips for Securing Your Personal Computer

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month.
Below are tips to help you stay safe online:

1. Keep your firewall turned on: Firewalls provide protection against outside attackers by shielding your computer or network from malicious or unnecessary Internet traffic.

2. Always use good passwords for your PC:
• Don't use passwords that are based on personal information that can be easily accessed or guessed
• Don't use words that can be found in any dictionary of any language
• Develop a mnemonic for remembering complex passwords
• Use a combination of lowercase and capital letters, numbers, and special characters
• Use passphrases when you can
• Use different passwords on different systems
• Use at least 8 characters
• Change your password periodically

3. Keep all your software and your operating system up-to-date: Many vulnerabilities on a computer can be avoided with a few simple updates. Updating your software also helps with bug fixes in the software and addition of new features from the software developer.

4. Install Anti-Virus Software: Anti-virus software can identify and block many viruses before they can infect your computer. Once you install anti-virus software, it is important to keep it updated. While antivirus software, regardless of which package you choose, increases your level of protection, nothing can guarantee the security of your computer. Antivirus software is limited in its ability to protect your computer because it can only detect viruses that have signatures installed on your computer

5. Secure your wireless network at home: Wireless networks have gotten easy enough to set up that many users simply plug them in and start using the network without giving much thought to security. Nevertheless, taking a few extra minutes to configure the security features of your wireless router or access point is time well spent.

Other Useful Sites and Information Sources


Friday, October 14, 2011

230,000 Iowa Residents Telework from Home

By Dev Joshi, Research Analyst at Connected Nation

Broadband is an important tool that affects how we live, work, and play. For example, according to new research conducted by Connect Iowa, 16% of employed adult Iowans use the Internet to telework instead of commuting – that translates into approximately 230,000 Iowans who go online instead of dealing with the added cost, time, and frustrations of commuting. In addition, 27% (or about 392,000 employed adult Iowans) said they would telework if their employer allowed it. This is more than two-fifths of the employed population in Iowa that either are teleworking or are interested in teleworking.

Connected Nation has surveyed more than 27,000 adults across 10 states to see how people are using broadband, and to see why some people still have not decided to subscribe to broadband service at home. Be sure to check back here frequently as more results from these surveys become available.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Connected Nation Releases 2011 Residential Broadband Adoption Survey Results

Today, Connected Nation released its groundbreaking annual residential broadband adoption survey results representing among the largest surveys of its kind ever undertaken. The results from the survey are available online, and give a comprehensive view of the challenges and opportunities for expanding broadband in targeted sectors.

The survey results show the majority of low-income, senior, disabled adult, Hispanic, and African-American households are still without broadband at home.

We invite you to explore, examine and, most importantly, share these results.

“The broadband adoption gap affects us all – it affects the economic future of our communities, it affects the education of our children, and it affects the economy’s potential for job growth,” said Tom Koutsky, chief policy counsel for Connected Nation.

These surveys were conducted in support of Connected Nation’s state programs, which are at the forefront of state efforts to close the nation’s digital gap. These surveys explore the main barriers to adoption – cost, digital skills, and relevance – and also provide unique insights into the broadband landscape in several states.

See the related news release here.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Connected Nation Joins National Coalition to Boost Digital Literacy

FCC's Chairman Julius Genachowski announces broadband adoption initiative called “Connect to Compete.” 

Today, Connected Nation was named by the FCC as a key strategic advisor and partner in a national public-private broadband adoption initiative called “Connect to Compete” aimed at boosting digital literacy and skills training and job creation.

The program involves a dozen private and nonprofit partners and includes a national “digital literacy corps” working to close the broadband adoption gap, and initiatives by private sector firms that are donating training opportunities, software, and creating digital content that will help job seekers.

“Our data show that nearly 32 million rural Americans don’t have broadband at home. Across all areas, approximately 6.7 million unemployed Americans don’t have home broadband service. We can’t compete when our players are sitting on the sidelines without the right equipment,” said Brian Mefford, CEO of Connected Nation.
A member of Best Buy's Geek Squad addresses the crowd at Wednesday's FCC announcement.
At Connected Nation, we have been working for more than a decade to boost digital inclusion and broadband adoption, access, and use. And, tomorrow, Connected Nation is releasing its 2011 Residential Technology Assessment revealing the barriers to broadband adoption across vulnerable sectors. The research shows the vital need for efforts such as Connect to Compete.

Check back on tomorrow to learn more.


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Super Committee to White House: We Need More Commercial Bandwidth

By Chris McGovern, Manager, Research Development, Connected Nation

Last week, four members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (aka the “Super Committee”) sent a letter to the Obama Administration, requesting that it “make more efficient use of federal government spectrum and reallocate some of it for commercial broadband use.” Not only would auctioning off this spectrum help increase federal revenues (the goal of the Super Committee), but it would also free up spectrum that mobile broadband providers can buy (via auction) to provide better service to more Americans.

Recent proposals to auction off licensed bandwidth currently owned by television broadcasters have stalled over concerns that selling that bandwidth would increase interference and decrease service area for television broadcasters.

While this letter from Rep. Fred Upton, Rep. Xavier Becerra, Sen. Pat Toomey, and Sen. John Kerry endorses a voluntary auction of television bandwidth, they say that more bandwidth will be needed than can be provided through these voluntary spectrum auctions. With a growing number of Americans using their mobile devices in ways that require more bandwidth (like streaming music or videos), mobile providers say they need more spectrum.

According to new research from Connected Nation, 52% of adult cell phone owners say they subscribe to a service on their cell phone that allows them to access the Internet, and 43% of all adults say they use mobile broadband service (either on their cell phone or on a laptop or tablet computer).  These figures differ from state to state, though; for example, only 38% of Iowa adults who own a cell phone subscribe to an Internet service on their cell phone, and fewer than one-third (32%) of Iowa adults use mobile broadband service. At the same time, 14% of Iowa adults who use their cell phone to access the Internet (representing about 84,000 Iowans) say they are not satisfied with their current mobile broadband speeds.

Michigan Aims to Lead in Cybersecurity

By Wil Payton, Communications Specialist, Connected Nation

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has launched the Michigan Cyber Initiative to protect the state from cybersecurity attacks. He also announced that the state would form a Michigan Cyber Defense Response Team to advise state leaders. Eric Frederick, Connect Michigan’s program manager was in attendance at the Michigan Cyber Summit 2011 hosted by the Governor today.

“Cyber attacks are the largest threat to our national security," said Gov. Snyder. "I’m a victim. My family and I have been a victim of cyber crime. If you think about it, it’s probably the most pervasive single crime in this country. Most of us have been a victim in some fashion."

Joining in the Michigan Cyber Summit were U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano; Howard Schmidt, White House cybersecurity coordinator and special assistant to the president; and U.S. Reps. John Dingell, Mike Rogers, and Hansen Clarke. The event served as the national launch of National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

“The Information and communications systems and infrastructure we use are a national treasure and asset,” said Schmidt. “We all need to do our part to keep ourselves safe in cyberspace.”

“What's happening in the digital world is impacting the physical world,” said Napolitano. "Each of us must stop and think before we connect," she said. "The urgency here is real, the need is great, the threats exist."


Monday, October 10, 2011

Humboldt’s Humming a Technology Tune

By Lindsey Niedzielski, State Program Manager, Connect Nevada

A new group of technology trailblazers is hard at work after its first meeting in Winnemucca.

The members of Humboldt County’s Technology Team held their first official meeting on September 29 at Winnemucca City Hall. The members went straight to work addressing several key issues that are creating challenges for Humboldt County’s technology landscape.

Broadband access and adoption is at the top of the priority list. Quality broadband is a critical need for Humboldt County to remain competitive in business and local job creation. The Humboldt County Development Authority (HCDA) recently partnered with Connect Nevada to become a pioneer in broadband expansion efforts.

HCDA representative Bill Simms and local team chair and commissioner Mike Bell worked tirelessly to get regional broadband providers in the same room to address barriers to getting and promoting faster Internet speeds to local residents. The meeting was successful in beginning the action steps toward broadband expansion. Providers in attendance spent a bulk of the meeting sharing best practices and ideas for solutions to service issues in Humboldt. For more information about the next Humboldt County meeting please contact

Nevada’s Broadband Task Force is also supporting the work of the Humboldt County Development Authority. The next meeting of the Task Force is set for Tuesday, October 18.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Marking a Milestone for Texas Economic Development

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connected Texas

The marking of a milestone is underway in Texas. The Texas Economic Development Council (TEDC) is celebrating its 50th anniversary this week at its annual conference.

TEDC is an Austin-based non-profit professional association dedicated to the development of economic and employment opportunities all across Texas. The council considers itself a “one-stop shop for ideas, information, and influence.” In fact, TEDC is the largest state association of economic development professionals, volunteers, and elected officials with the goal of bringing new investment and jobs to Texas.

This year’s conference brought in speakers ranging from Texas Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples and U.S. Trade Ambassador Ron Kirk to representatives from Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company, the American Natural Gas Association, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, and even Ross Perot, Jr.!

The speakers and workshops are part of the information, educational, and legislative services TEDC offers to its nearly 900 members. The annual Conference is also recognized by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) as professional development training that counts toward recertification of Certified Economic Developers (CEcD), with the goal always being to support the economic growth of Texas and develop strategies that promote a positive business climate across the entire state.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s Proposal to Reform USF

The FCC Chairman just finished a speech outlining, in the broadest of strokes, a proposed rule his office is circulating that would reform parts of the federal Universal Service Fund and the related intercarrier compensation program.  The Chairman began by outlining various and compelling reasons as to why the USF needs to be transitioned to support universal broadband deployment in the U.S., and much of those benefits (unsurprisingly) hinged on the economy and jobs.

He also made the point that broadband has gone from a “luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society.”  Throughout the Chairman’s speech, he stressed that the over-riding goal in USF reform, his office’s work, and this proposal was the elimination of negative impacts of the current system on consumers, and an increase in consumer benefits moving forward.

While we’re still analyzing key elements of the proposal, we know that the Chairman noted that the core of his proposal mirrors what the FCC proposed in the National Broadband Plan. Today’s proposal creates the Connect America Fund, which will transition some of the current USF’s high-cost fund to pay for broadband deployment; it creates a Mobility Fund to pay for wireless broadband deployment; and the proposal begins an overhaul of intercarrier compensation (the Chairman noted that his proposal will not penalize states which have already reformed telephone access charges). The Chairman also stressed that state governments will retain a key role in the new USF, and that there will be dedicated funding for tribal lands.

More to come as we assess the details of the Chairman’s proposal, and as we track what will surely be widely varied reactions from interested parties.

Steve Jobs - Thomas Edison of Our Time

We mourn the passing of Steve Jobs. He was the Thomas Edison of our time and a trailblazer for connectivity. His inventions propelled us into the online world and altered the course of human interaction. He has left an indelible mark for generations to come. He will be missed.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Telemedicine Takes Center Stage in Anchorage

By Jeremy Thacker, Communications Specialist, Connect Alaska

With remote villages and rugged bush, there is simply no state that faces more challenges to quality individual medical care than Alaska. It is a fact that recently made the state the perfect backdrop for an important meeting of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).

ATA’s Fall Forum 2011 was held in Anchorage late last month to showcase the most groundbreaking, unusual, and extraordinary ideas and uses for telemedicine. The goal of the conference was to focus on big ideas that will revolutionize telemedicine in the next three to five years.

American Telemedicine Association Fall Fourm
In the spirit of telemedicine, the event was live simulcast via Internet videocast with the support of GCI ConnectMD. GCI is an Alaska-based telecommunications company. Its medical network is a telemedicine tool that is making a huge positive impact on the quality of medical care in once isolated villages in Alaska’s remote bush. Currently, GCI ConnectMD is the largest medical network in the Pacific Northwest, connecting more than 200 clinics, hospitals, and medical organizations.
CGI ConnectMD Network Map

A recent article by predicts that the telemedicine industry is headed for an explosive growth spurt over the next decade. The main reason for the prediction centers on the growing use of remote patient monitoring systems. The systems are being used more and more to keep a close monitor on patients, which cuts down on hospital visits and the length of patient stays.

There are already many life-improving and life-saving telemedicine technologies being used in Alaska and across the United States. Access to these services through quality, reliable broadband is critical. Telemedicine is just one more reason Connect Alaska is working with the Alaska Broadband Task Force to expand high-speed Internet access, adoption, and use across the state.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

NACO’s Land of Opportunity

By Lindsey Niedzielski, Program Manager, Connect Nevada

Nevada Association of Counties (NACO) members are feeling a new surge of purpose and hope after the organization’s annual conference. The event was held on September 21 in Churchill County and was capped by a guest speaker with a powerful and inspiring message, especially in light of the tough economic times Nevada has been facing.

Lt. Col. (ret.) Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch
The resonating theme of Lt. Col. (ret.) Consuelo Castillo Kickbusch’s speech was centered on the point that America still represents a land of opportunity. As a child of an immigrant father, Lt. Col Kickbusch challenged the audience to remember the value of family and community, especially among people who feel the most economic hardship. His point was especially relevant as we start to look at the challenges faced by citizens, especially children, without adequate access to broadband. Lower income and minority households are often the ones sitting on the “other side” of the digital divide.

In fact, a study by Connected Nation discovered:
  • Only 37% of low-income minority households with children have broadband at home
  • Only 46% of all low-income households with children have broadband at home
  • Estimates show that 17 million children do not have broadband at home, and that 7.6 million of them live in low-income households
  • 40% of low-income households do not own a computer, compared to 9% of all other households

It is statistics like these that are driving Connect Nevada’s purpose to bridge the digital divide and connect all Nevadans to quality broadband and the opportunities it provides. With better broadband access, adoption, and use, Nevada truly is a limitless land of opportunity where the American dream is still alive and well.