Washington, DC – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration has announced grants to Connected Nation for programs in 11 states and one U.S. territory. The funding enables Connected Nation to extend its comprehensive broadband mapping and planning efforts to include grassroots efforts to accelerate the impact of broadband across state and local economies in those states. The states partnering with Connected Nation are Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas, along with the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The funds are a part of the NTIA’s State Broadband Data and Development (SBDD) grant program. Awards are as follows:
Alaska: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Alaska, is awarded $4,457,388.
Florida: The Florida Department of Management Services is awarded $6,308,570.
Iowa: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Iowa, is awarded $3,515,682.
Kansas: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Kansas, is awarded $4,397,431.
Michigan: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Michigan, is awarded $2,989,930.
Minnesota: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Minnesota, is awarded $2,761,171.
Nevada: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Nevada, is awarded $2,565,115.
Ohio: The Ohio Office of Information Technology is awarded $5,253,023.
Puerto Rico: The Office of the Governor is awarded $1,108,957.
South Carolina: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of South Carolina, is awarded $2,293,429.
Tennessee: Connected Tennessee is awarded $2,722,118.
Texas: Connected Nation, the designated entity on behalf of the State of Texas, is awarded $4,997,835.
“In today’s global economy, job creation and economic development begins with broadband. At Connected Nation, we are continually striving to increase broadband capacity where it’s needed and stimulate demand through community collaboration,” said Brian Mefford, chief executive officer of Connected Nation. “Through our work in our state-based initiatives, we have seen first-hand that communities want to help drive efforts in their states – they simply need the resources. With these funds, our state programs will empower that community spirit: gathering the critical data, and working with state, public, and private partners to carry out a strategic plan for better broadband and greater impact in the state and local economies.”
Since late 2009, Connected Nation has worked in these states in broadband mapping efforts under the SBDD. This work comprises approximately 42 percent of the country’s landmass and encompasses approximately 39.5 million households.
Already, data collection and market analysis efforts have had a direct impact on generating broadband awareness and fostering collaboration within local communities. In Michigan, the Connect Michigan initiative helped one local community gain much-needed high-speed Internet access.
After reading about Connect Michigan’s work in a regional magazine, Steven Kostyshyn contacted the staff, expressing his frustration with his lack of broadband access in his small town of Cedar. His town is just 7 miles from Traverse City, a major commercial hub.
“After moving just seven miles out of Traverse City last fall there was no question in my mind that some form of high-speed Internet would be available,” said Kostyshyn, an artist and businessman. “Boy, was I wrong.”
Connect Michigan reached out to Cherry Capital Connection (CCC), a local broadband Internet service provider, and within a week a solution was found to provide Kostyshyn and his neighbors reliable and affordable broadband service. (See, “Nonprofit Helps Fast Internet Reach Rural Leelanau, WWJ 950”.)
While this kind of success story highlights the important work Connected Nation does in community collaboration, the data collection is vital to building an actionable state strategy.
In early September, Connect Iowa released “Iowa Broadband: Current Market Analysis & Initial Recommendations for Acceleration of Iowa’s Broadband Market.” This report is a key element in developing a clear action plan for broadband growth in the state. The market analysis helps the Iowa Broadband Deployment Governance Board plan to increase high-speed Internet access and adoption across the state, outline current broadband availability in the state, analyze where and why gaps in availability exist, and produce extensive policy recommendations to build the state’s broadband capacity.
With the additional SBDD funds, Connected Nation’s state-based initiatives will continue expanding their work in the states, focusing heavily on broadband expansion and stimulating demand at the grassroots level.
This kind of grassroots work is not new to Connected Nation. Leveraging work that began in Kentucky, two Connected Nation states — Tennessee and Ohio —have seen tremendous increases in broadband availability and adoption since their programs began in recent years.
Since Connected Tennessee’s inception in 2007, the state has experienced a 35% increase in broadband adoption, with the fastest growth occurring among Tennessee’s low-income residents (133% growth), minorities (113% growth), elderly (76% growth), and rural residents (60% growth).
Since 2008, Connect Ohio has worked on the ground to expand broadband use and impact throughout the state. In its 2010 Residential Technology Assessment, 66% of Ohio residents, or 5.8 million adults, reported they subscribe to broadband service at home, up from 55% at the inception of the program. Additionally, 82% of Ohioans, or 8.8 million adults, report owning a computer at home, up from the 76% previously reported.
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