Our September map of the month revisits a topic that we explored in October of 2014 — how Utah’s broadband coverage is overrepresented in the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Form 477 broadband maps. This is a policy issue and one that certainly impacts most if not all states.
Local and special service districts are an important user constituency for broadband services. In addition to broadband use at district headquarters, many are also dependent on broadband for field and infrastructure operations.
On April 18th, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its application window for the Community Connect Program, a grant program that will provide nearly $12 million in funding for rural broadband development in fiscal year 2016. The Rural Utilities Service (RUS) administers the grants, which are used to fund broadband infrastructure projects that promote economic development in rural areas. Continue reading
On March 30, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its long anticipated rate of return order that provides $20 billion in funding over the next 10 years. According to Chairman Wheeler, “Today’s order sets forth a package of reforms to address rate-of-return issues that are fundamentally intertwined—the need to modernize the program to provide support for stand-alone broadband service; the need to improve incentives for broadband investment to connect unserved rural Americans; and the need to strengthen the rate-of-return system to provide certainty and stability for years to come.” Continue reading
Today President Obama called upon all nonprofits, businesses, technology experts, and governments to connect 20 million more Americans to broadband by 2020. This goal, along with other supportive programs, was announced in a White House press release introducing the new ConnectALL initiative.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler recently took to the FCC blog to announce that a new order to reform universal support for rate-of-return carriers has been circulated at the agency. Mr. Wheeler announced progress has been made to support stand-alone broadband providers, improve incentives for providers to connect rural communities, and generally strengthen the rate-of-return system and rural broadband so that it can be reliable and stable for years to come.
Reliable broadband service is increasingly becoming a critical tool to access information in the State of Utah. As of February 29, 2016, paper copies of Utah’s two largest daily newspapers will no longer be delivered to the rural areas in Kane, Grand, and San Juan Counties. Instead, subscribers of Deseret News and the Salt Lake Tribune have been asked to switch to digital subscription, or e-edition, a service which relies on Internet accessibility. Continue reading
The November 2015 Map of the Month shows, at a statewide scale, the current commercial fiber-based broadband service availability reported to the Broadband Outreach Center for inclusion on the locate.utah.gov site.
The Utah Economic Development Map (locate.utah.gov), which was released in May, features the availability of fiber broadband service together with other considerations attractive to relocating businesses such as utility, transportation, education, and recreation resources.
The fiber broadband service on this interactive web map is portrayed using 1 km hexagons (diameter), according to two general categories of service:
- Short Order Fiber Service Availability (typically within 30 days), and
- Custom Order Fiber Service (typically within 9 months).
The October 2015 Map of the Month shows Utah’s FirstNet Coverage Goals for the Nationwide Public Safety Broadband Network (NPSBN).
The Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy published an article this month, State-Level Broadband Policy: A Compendium of Resources and Approaches which outlines why broadband policy matters for civic participation, education, health care delivery, economic growth, worker training, and public safety. Angela Seifer, adjunct fellow at the Pell Center, wrote the article to synthesize several examples of successful state-level policies and recommend various best-practices for implementing robust broadband programs.