Broadband Opportunity Council Report and Recommendations
The White House released its Broadband Opportunity Council Report and Recommendations yesterday, informed by input from across the Federal government about how to expand broadband access in the U.S. The Broadband Opportunity Council was created in March with the purpose of identifying key barriers to broadband adoption and identifying strategies to increase investment, deployment, and competition for all Americans.
The Council's final report consists of four overarching recommendations that federal agencies have committed to following:
- Modernize Federal programs to expand program support for broadband investments.
- Empower communities with tools and resources to attract broadband investment and promote meaningful use.
- Promote increased broadband deployment and competition through expanded access to Federal assets.
- Improve data collection, analysis, and research on broadband.
As part of the Council's guiding principle to develop best practices and provide technical assistance to communities in need of broadband services, the Institute of Museum and Library Services will fund a new initiative to provide rural and tribal libraries with tools to assess and manage broadband networks (which includes the Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant of $248,725 awarded to Internet2, which will be managed by our U.S. UCAN program). Internet2 will pilot a project to develop a broadband network assessment toolkit and training program for rural and tribal libraries. The pilot will include more than 30 library practitioners in at least 30 rural public and tribal libraries across five states.
The Council also recommends opening up $10 billion in Federal grants and loans for broadband-related activities in 13 different programs by specifying broadband as an eligible expenditure in these programs. These programs include the USDA Rural Development Community Facility Program, HHS efforts to support the ability of health centers to use health information technology to improve healthcare, and expanding broadband eligibility for community development in HUD housing.
From a research perspective, NSF and NTIA will develop a national broadband research agenda, prototype advanced applications, and improve data collection, analysis, and research on broadband. Potential research topics include broadband innovation, deployment, adoption, and impacts. The program will engage the broader research community to address challenges and needs. Additionally, NSF will pilot new applications that leverage advanced broadband networks to demonstrate the technological benefits of expanding gigabit broadband networks.
The recommendations also support the education community by directing the Department of Education to compile better data about student access to technology in schools and at home and to better understand district needs for connectivity, devices, and digital content.
Several of these recommendations and initiatives align with Internet2’s comments to the Council, submitted on June 10. Internet2 supports the recommendations made in the report and looks forward to working with the Council and its member agencies to promote broadband deployment and adoption throughout the country.