Tag Archives: broadband

Americans flock to new broadband speed test

Part of Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski’s announcement of the National Broadband Plan was the unveiling of a website that allows Americans to test their broadband speed. In the first few days of the speed test’s availability, more than 150,000 people have taken part. As of March 17, Washington, Oregon and California boasted the fastest and most reliable speeds while Alaska, Montana, Idaho and Wyoming report the slowest. Very few states ranked in top the tier of the speed results between 11.6 to 13.3 Mbps, while most ranged from 7.9 to 10.0, according to Arts Technica. The test is not fully developed yet, but the government plans to use the mastered version of the program to eliminate dead zones in the U.S. “The FCC can hope to get a much clearer picture about the broadband speeds once the test tool comes out of beta; thereby indicating the potential to report the virtual dead zones that totally lack broadband service,” according to Amandeep Dhalwal, a writer for TopNews. According to Arts Technica, the FCC will use the information collected through the broadband testing page to make informed decisions on policy regarding web access and regulation.


FCC announces National Broadband Plan

In recent weeks, U.S. Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski has revealed small details of the organization’s National Broadband Plan, but Wednesday morning the plan was made public. As expected, the primary goal of the plan is eliminating the digital divide that prevents millions of low-income families or those in rural areas from obtaining reliable, high-speed internet access.

As part of the announcement, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology revealed technology that will make it easier for ISPs to provide web access to people in rural areas and other regions currently without infrastructure for broadband.

“If we don’t act, we put at risk the promise of America as a land of opportunity, stranding on the wrong side of the digital divide a host of important American communities: rural Americans, low-income Americans, minorities, seniors, Tribal communities and Americans with disabilities, too many of whom will be left fighting the challenges of a 21st century world with 20th century weapons,” Genachowski said in a statement.

The move brings the U.S. a step closer to complete broadband coverage, which is one of the Obama Administration’s stated goals. A survey conducted by GlobeScan for the British Broadcasting Company revealed that more than 80 percent of 27,000 people in 26 countries believe that internet access should be considered a basic human right.

Grants awarded to improve broadband access in Midwest

The latest grants awarded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act went to Colorado-based Level 3 EON and Oklahoma-based Totah Communications to improve the availability of high-speed internet access in Southeast and South-Central Kansas.

Level 3 EON received $998,400 from the grant, while Totah received $8.5 million. The broadband improvements are expected to help 50,000 households and nearly 4,000 businesses obtain high-speed internet that is currently unavailable or unaffordable in the area.

“We’re excited that Level 3 EON and Totah Communications have been awarded this Recovery Act funding to expand high-speed internet in Kansas,” said Kansas Secretary of Commerce Bill Thornton. “Through projects like this, we’ll continue to foster economic growth and sustainability in our rural communities while also increasing the overall quality-of-life for our rural citizens.”

In recent months since the first wave of funding from the ARRA was awarded, Kansas has improved its available internet access. Now more than 96 percent of Kansas can access the internet, but for many rural communities the cost is too prohibitive. The most recent grants are likely to bring the cost down along with improving the quality of the service, according to ConnectKansas.org.

Cisco to release plans to help speed up the internet

Cisco Systems is reportedly readying to unveil a plan to work with service providers to build super-fast broadband networks that could run at 1 Gbps, according to published reports.

The announcement, expected March 9, would mirror a similar infrastructure announcement made by Google in early February, and will come just ahead of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

While the plan to bring faster internet service is similar in speed to Google’s, the two companies differ in execution.

Google is seen as taking on the current telecom and cable providers with its open-source service, while an unnamed Cisco source told Reuters that “the technology would help telecom service providers like phone companies offer better, high-speed internet service.”

The speeding up of the internet is a clear intention of the FCC as it recently said it wants minimum internet data transmission speeds of 100 megabits per second to 100 million homes within the net 10 years, compared with current industry estimates of less than 4 Mbps, Reuters reported.

The FCC had previously put the cost of upgrading current networks and building new ones at as much as $350 billion.

Stimulus funds aid Ohio broadband development

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland announced recently that OneCommunity, an Ohio nonprofit organization, received $11.7 million from the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act to expand the availability and performance of broadband internet access in the state. More than 14,000 people in urban and rural areas of Ohio cannot access high-speed internet. The funds will go directly toward narrowing the state’s digital divide. OneCommunity has received nearly $19 million recently for projects that will also help Florida, Michigan, Mississippi and Kentucky. “In this increasingly technologically-driven economy, we are committed to expanding broadband access to all Ohioans and eliminating the digital divide,” Strickland said. “Broadband creates educational opportunities for disadvantaged Ohioans in urban, suburban and rural areas.” OneCommunity’s stated goal is to accelerate the availability of broadband internet to boost educational and economic opportunities for disadvantaged populations. Similar efforts were announced recently in Washington state and Utah as part of the ARRA. Improving national availability of broadband access was one of President Barack Obama’s stated educational and technological initiatives in his State of the Union Address in January. The funds are not being awarded to every state that applies, however. The Baltimore Sun reported recently that Maryland failed in an attempt to receive federal funding for its broadband initiatives.

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