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On May 22, US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that USDA is now accepting applications for the Community Connect Grant Program, the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program and the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program. The funding will advance communications technology in rural communities.
Up to $13 million will be available through the Community Connect Grant Program, which funds broadband in underserved areas with the goal of supporting economic growth and delivering enhanced educational, health care and public safety services. Up to $19.3 million will be available through the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Program, which funds access to health care resources, training and rural education by financing advanced telecommunications equipment in rural areas. Up to $2 million will be available through the Public Television Station Digital Transition Grant Program to help rural stations complete the transition to digital broadcasting.
The deadline for applications is July 7.
For more information on funding availability and links to Federal Register postings, see the USDA News Release.
The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has released the Infrastructure Loan Application Guide for applicants interested in the Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program. The guide, which provides information on eligibility, types of financial assistance available, engineering requirements, and the loan review process, among other information, is intended to help applicants and borrowers with the development of loan applications.
The Telecommunications Infrastructure Loan Program makes long-term direct and guaranteed loans to expand and improve telecommunications facilities in rural areas. All funded telecommunications facilities must be broadband capable. More information is available here.
Later this month — on March 12 — the World Wide Web will be 25 years old. To commemorate this event, the Pew Research Center Internet Project has released a report — “The Web at 25 in the US” — that examines the adoption and impact of the web. The report looks at changes and trends through Pew’s research history on the Internet and presents 2014 data. Key findings include:
- 87 percent of American adults use the Internet, with 68 percent using the Internet both at home and on a mobile device (smartphone or tablet).
- 71 percent of Americans report using the Internet on a regular day, with 90 percent of Internet users reporting they access the Internet at home and 44 percent saying they access the Internet at work.
- 90 percent believe that the Internet has been a good thing for them personally, while 76 percent believe that it hase been good for society. Six percent say it has been bad for them personally, while 15 percent believe it has been bad for society.
- 53 percent say that the Internet would be very hard to give up.
- Two-thirds of Internet users report that online communication has strengthened their relationships with family and friends.
The summary of findings can be found here. The full report is in two parts: How the Internet has woven itself into American life and Americans’ views about the role of Internet in their lives.
The 2014 Farm Bill, signed into law by President Obama on February 7, contains provisions for a Rural Gigabit Network Pilot Program. Under the program, up to $10 million will be available every year from 2014-2018 (a total of $50 million), for grants, loans, or loan guarantees to extend ultra high-speed Internet service to rural areas where such service is not currently available.
On February 4, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack announced nearly $16 million in grants in 25 states for distance learning and telemedicine. Funds were awarded through USDA’s Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program.
Grant recipients include hospitals and clinics, schools, and libraries serving rural America and can be used for the purchase of equipment and technical assistance. Grant recipients must provide at least a 15 percent match.
There are three telemedicine grant recipients in Missouri — Ozarks Medical Center, Harrison County Community Hospital District, and Mercy Health. Citizens Memorial Hospital District received a combination grant.
Read the full press release here. The full list of grant recipients can be found here.
The FCC announced on Monday that it will invest $2 billion in high-speed Internet for schools and libraries over the next two years.
The investment, which will connect 20 million students in 15,000 schools, works towards meeting the goal of making high-speed Internet connections available to 99 percent of students within five years. This goal is a central part of President Obama’s ConnectED initiative, launched in June.
Funding will come from re-prioritization and increased efficiency of the E-Rate program, which helps connect schools and libraries to the Internet, providing $2.4 billion annually in funds for “communications services” (Internet and telecommunications services). Currently, less than half E-Rate funding goes to high-speed Internet connections.
The FCC will work to modernize the E-Rate program by increasing the focus on broadband, streamlining the application process, and helping schools and libraries lower the prices they are paying for Internet service, among other actions.
The full FCC announcement is available here.
MoBroadbandNow has released a new report, “Regional Disparities in Broadband Speed and Cost in Missouri: An Analysis of Broadband Pricing Data.” The report — the fourth in a series examining data in order to better understand the broadband landscape in Missouri — analyzes Internet speed and pricing data and examines how broadband cost and speed correlate to economic and demographic factors in Missouri’s regions.
Key findings in the report include:
- Internet speed is lower in rural areas, in areas with lower average household incomes, and in areas experiencing population loss.
- Moving up an Internet speed tier costs more at lower speed tiers than at higher speed tiers. This reflects that in some areas the cost of even a basic Internet connection is very high.
- Monthly average price does not vary greatly across regions, but the average speed across regions varies – meaning in regions with lower speeds, the costs per megabit is higher.
Read the full report here. Previous MoBroadbandNow reports in the series can be found here.
The Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project is compiling a series of “demographic snapshots” examing technology adoption and use among different demographic groups.
The first report, “African Americans and Technology Use: A Demographic Portrait,” analyzes home and mobile broadband adoption among demographic subgroups, as well as social network use and tablet/e-reader adoption. The report finds that a digital divide is still present, though it does not exist across all platforms or demographic subgroups.
Key findings from the report include:
- Overall, there is a seven percentange point gap between African Americans (80%) and whites (87%) when it comes to Internet adoption. This gap is pronounced for home broadband access (74% compared to 62%), while adoption of mobile Internet technologies is relatively equal
- The adoption gap becomes more pronounced within demographic subgroups, including African Americans over age 65 (30% are home broadband adopters) and those who have not attended college (39%)
- The broadband adoption gap disappears for young, educated, and high-income African Americans, who are as likely as young, educated, and high-income white households to have a home broadband connection
- 10% of African Americans indicate that they have a smartphone, but not a home broadband connection
The report summary and full report are available from the Pew Internet and American Life Project. A similar report, “Closing the Digital Divide: Latinos and Technology Adoption” was published in March 2013 by the Pew Research Hispanic Trends Project.
NTIA’s third Broadband Brief, published in November 2013, explores broadband availability in the workplace, focusing on the manufacturing and information sectors. While the manufacturing and information sectors both represent important segments of the US economy, manufacturing jobs tend to be concentrated in rural areas and have access to lower broadband speeds, while information jobs tend to be concentrated in urban areas and have access to higher broadband speeds.
Using five categories of analysis, based on degrees of urbanization, the report looks at differences in broadband availability in the workplace across the rural-urban continuum. Findings include:
- Broadband speeds increased across all geographies and all sectors between June 2011 and June 2012
- Nearly all jobs are now located in an area with at least basic broadband access (3mbps download, 768kbps upload)
- 50 percent of jobs are located in areas with download speeds of 100mbps
- Jobs in very rural areas (11 residents or 2 jobs per square miles) were less likely to have access to higher broadband speeds, with only one-third of businesses having access to download speeds of 50mpbs or higher
- Even with significant increases in speed availability, manufacturing jobs remain less likely to have access to higher broadband speeds
Previous Broadband Briefs have explored broadband availability and the rural/urban divide by community typology.
New broadband maps are now posted! Broadband service, speed, and maximum adverstised download and upload speed maps are available at both the state and regional levels. MoBroadbandNow has regularly developed statewide broadband service maps since 2010. New maps are produced and published at six month intervals.
These current maps reflect the eigth round of data collection and reflect data current as of June 30, 2013. Currently there are over 120 participating Internet Service Providers.
Be sure to visit the MoBroadbandNow Interactive Map to learn more about providers and broadband availability in your area.
A new report from the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project examines why Americans who do not currently use the Internet choose not to. The report — “Who’s not Online and Why” — finds that of American adults, ages 18 and older, 15 percent do not use the Internet at all. An additional 9 percent of American adults use the Internet, though not at home.
- The most common reason cited for not using the Internet is that non-adopters do not think that the Internet is relevant to them (34 percent) and the second most common reason cited for not using the Internet is that the Internet is difficult to use (32 percent). Cost of a computer or Internet connection were third (19 percent)
- Of Internet non-adopters, 92 percent indicated that they are not interested in starting to use the Internet, while only 8 percent indicated an interest in starting to use the Internet or email
- 63 percent of Internet non-adopters indicate that they would need assistance to start using the Internet
Read the full report here.
For more on Internet and broadband non-adoption in Missouri, see “Understanding Internet Non-adoption: Fulfilling Missouri’s Digital Promise.”
Are you a Missouri business? We want to hear from you!
The MoBroadbandNow initiative is working to enhance broadband adoption and accessibility in all areas of Missouri. As part of this effort, MoBroadbandNow is conducting a survey of business broadband access, use, and needs.
Governor Jay Nixon established MoBroadbandNow in 2009 as a public-private partnership to expand broadband accessibility and adoption in Missouri. In 2012, MoBroadbandNow launched the Rural Health Broadband Initiative to support broadband use in rural healthcare and AgBroadbandNow, an initiative focused on broadband applications for the agriculture and agribusiness communities. In addition to the questions on access and use for all businesses, the survey has additional questions for the agriculture and healthcare sectors.
Businesses can complete the survey online at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/MBBNBusinessSurvey
Business that do not have Internet or that want to participate in the survey, but are unable to take it online, or prefer not to take it online may call Wesley Luebbert at 573-751-6257 and take the survey over the phone.
For questions please contact MoBroadbandNow at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In August, MoBroadbandNow attended the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia and collected surveys on broadband availability and adoption from 2,800 Missourians:
- Responses were received from residents of 108 of 115 of Missouri’s counties
- 86.6% of respondents report having an Internet connection in their home and 75.3% of those report that they consider their Internet connection to be high-speed (broadband)
- The majority of respondents report being satisfied or very satisfied with the speed, cost and reliability of their Internet service. However, the majority of respondents report being dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with choice of providers.
- The average montly price reported for broadband is $50.19
- For those respondents without broadband, the three most commonly cited reasons are cost, no computer, and not available.
A full summary of survey results is available here.
For more information about broadband availability, adoption and use in Missouri, the results of the 2013 Residential Survey are available here.
A pin map at the MoBroadbandNow exhibit at the 2013 Missouri State Fair.
Are you a Missouri business? If so, we want to hear from you about your Internet usage and needs. Take the MoBroadbandNow business survey by following this link.
The survey will take 10 to 20 minutes to complete. Survey responses will remain anonymous and will only be reported as part of the larger group. Please complete the survey by September 30, 2013.
Be sure to stop by and see MoBroadbandNow in the University of Missouri Building at the Missouri State Fair this week in Sedalia! Fill out a short survey on Internet access, add your pin to the map, and get a free scoop of Buck’s Ice Cream!
Results from last year’s survey are available here.