NTIA Grants $25 Million for Broadband Research

The awards include $8.2 million for organizations under the umbrella of Connected Nation, a group with close ties to incumbent broadband providers.
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Everyone wants more broadband connectivity, right? Tuesday (Dec. 22), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration awarded $25 million in grants for “broadband mapping and planning activities” in 15 states, including $8.2 million for organizations under the umbrella of Connected Nation, a group with close ties to incumbent broadband providers.

Connected Nation and its local affiliates were chosen in Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, South Carolina and Tennessee. Government entities in eight other states and Puerto Rico will receive a total of $16.8 million.

The money comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

According to its Website, “Connected Nation believes that states, communities, families and individuals can realize great economic and social advantages when we accelerate broadband availability in underserved areas and increase broadband use in all areas, rural and urban, alike. Connected Nation facilitates public-private partnerships to increase access to and use of broadband and related technology, creating dramatic results that translate into economic and community development, better education, higher quality healthcare, more efficient public service and improved quality of life.”

Its “national advisors” include a Who’s Who of big-time telecom lobbying: Kyle McSlarrow of the National Cable and Telecommunications Association; James W. Cicconi of AT&T; Steve Largent of “CTIA—The Wireless Association; Joseph W. Waz of Comcast; Thomas J. Tauke of Verizon; Walter B. McCormick of the United States Telecom Association; Larry Cohen of the Communications Workers of America; Grant E. Seiffert of the Telecommunications Industry Association; Bob Stallman of the American Farm Bureau Association; John E. Davies of Intel; and others.

The states represented by Connected Nation “are providing direction and supervision to the planning activities that will be undertaken by their designated entity, which is a non-state government entity, to ensure that planning funds are used to address the specific needs of the state,” the NTIA said.

Having incumbent broadband providers map the nation’s connectivity is problematic for some.

“In order to be effective, a national broadband data-collection and mapping exercise should be conducted by a government agency, on behalf of the public, with as granular a degree of information as possible and be totally transparent so that underlying information can be evaluated,” Public Knowledge said in a March 2009 report. “Connected Nation is none of those and represents none of those characteristics. It is an organization sponsored by the telephone and cable companies and represents their interests in deciding what data to collect and how information should be displayed. … It would be a setback for our broadband policy if Connected Nation were to take a prominent role in broadband mapping and data collection if it continues on its present policy course because the organization does not represent wise public policy and because it distorts its results.”

NTIA said more grant announcements are forthcoming.

According to NTIA, awardees will collect and verify the availability, speed and location of broadband across the state on a semi-annual basis between 2009 and 2011, with the data to be presented in a clear and accessible format to the public, government, and the research community. The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available statewide broadband maps and to inform the comprehensive, interactive, and searchable national broadband map that NTIA is required by the Recovery Act to create and make publicly available by February 17, 2011.

Here is the complete NTIA list of grant recipients:

Arizona: NTIA has awarded the Arizona Government Information Technology Agency (GITA) approximately$1.8 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a three-year period in Arizona, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.3 million. GITA is the designated entity for the state of Arizona.

Florida: NTIA has awarded the Florida Department of Management Services approximately $2 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Florida, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.5 million. The Florida Department of Management Services is the designated entity for the state of Florida.

Georgia: NTIA has awarded the Georgia Technology Authority approximately $1.7 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and nearly $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a two-year period in Georgia, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.2 million. The Georgia Technology Authority is the designated entity for the state of Georgia.

Illinois: NTIA has awarded the Partnership for a Connected Illinois approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and approximately $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Illinois, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.8 million. The Partnership for a Connected Illinois is the designated entity for the state of Illinois.

Michigan: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Michigan, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.8 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of Michigan.

Minnesota: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $1.2 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Minnesota, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.7 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of Minnesota.

Nevada: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $930,000 for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Nevada, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.4 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of Nevada.

North Dakota: NTIA has awarded the North Dakota Information Technology Department (ITD) approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $300,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in North Dakota, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.6 million. ITD is the designated entity for the state of North Dakota.

Ohio: NTIA has awarded the Ohio Office of Information Technology approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Ohio, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.8 million. The Ohio Office of Information Technology is the designated entity for the state of Ohio.

Oregon: NTIA has awarded the Oregon Public Utilities Commission approximately $1.6 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Oregon, bringing the total grant award to approximately $2.1 million. The Oregon Public Utilities Commission is the designated entity for the state of Oregon.

Puerto Rico: NTIA has awarded the Puerto Rico Office of the Chief Information Officer approximately $925,000 for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Puerto Rico, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.4 million. The Puerto Rico Office of the Chief Information Officer is the designated entity for the territory of Puerto Rico.

Rhode Island: NTIA has awarded the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation (RIEDC) approximately $1 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Rhode Island, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.5 million. RIEDC is the designated entity for the state of Rhode Island.

South Carolina: NTIA has awarded Connected Nation approximately $1.2 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in South Carolina, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.7 million. Connected Nation is the designated entity for the state of South Carolina.

South Dakota: NTIA has awarded the South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications approximately $1.4 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in South Dakota, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.9 million. The South Dakota Bureau of Information and Telecommunications is the designated entity for the state of South Dakota.

Tennessee: NTIA has awarded Connected Tennessee approximately $1.3 million for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and almost $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period in Tennessee, bringing the total grant award to approximately $1.8 million. Connected Tennessee is the designated entity for the state of Tennessee.

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