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Rob Mancini
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October 28, 2009

NTIA Awards Grants for Broadband Mapping and Planning in the District  

(Washington, DC) The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced that it has awarded grants to fund broadband mapping and planning activities in the District of Columbia. The program, funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will increase broadband access and adoption through better data collection and broadband planning. The data will be displayed in NTIA’s national broadband map, a tool that will inform policymakers' efforts and provide consumers with improved information on the broadband Internet services available to them.

"This program will advance efforts to expand broadband access and adoption nationwide, which is vital to job creation and economic recovery,” said Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling. “NTIA will continue to provide guidance to applicants where necessary to help them improve their proposed projects, so that all states and territories can soon participate in this initiative."

NTIA has awarded the District of Columbia Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) approximately $993,000 for broadband data collection and mapping activities over a two-year period and $500,000 for broadband planning activities over a five-year period for the District of Columbia, bringing the total grant award to nearly $1.5 million. OCTO is the designated entity for the District of Columbia.

The District of Columbia is a densely developed urban area enjoying a thriving market for broadband services. District residents and businesses can choose among multiple fixed line and wireless broadband providers. Yet, even in the nation’s Capital, many Americans are missing opportunities to learn, interact, and transact because they are not online or are using outmoded technology.

The District’s policy goal is to enable all residents and businesses to access and adopt broadband services. Specifically, the District’s goal for Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA) related funds is to establish and sustain a common source of data, allowing all stakeholders (federal, District, private, and nonprofit) to effectively improve the accessibility and encourage the adoption of broadband.

This will be accomplished by:

  • Meeting all deliverables and schedules established by NTIA, thereby fully contributing to the national broadband map.
  • Forming lasting partnerships with private sector providers and nongovernmental organizations so that data is collected efficiently and distributed in an equitable manner.
  • Going beyond NTIA deliverable requirements and developing detailed geographic and demographic data on the adoption of broadband.
  • Disseminating the data to NTIA and as appropriate to the public with online mapping and data feeds.
  • Establishing processes for and funding repeated data updating.
  • Employing planning funds to inform residents not already using broadband about the many benefits of the technology and how it can be accessed.  

“The District’s broadband efforts are critical to the administration’s overall goal of bridging the digital divide,” said Washington, DC Acting Chief Technology Officer, Bryan Sivak. “The NTIA grant provides a huge opportunity for OCTO to explore the most innovative paths to citywide connectivity. I am confident these funds will make an impact on the lives of District residents, businesses and visitors.”

The State Broadband Data and Development Grant Program is a matching grant program that implements the joint purposes of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act. The program will provide grants to assist states or their designees in gathering and verifying state-specific data on the availability, speed, location, and technology type of broadband services. The data they collect and compile will also be used to develop publicly available state-wide 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.

The national broadband map will publicly display the geographic areas where broadband service is available; the technology used to provide the service; the speeds of the service; and broadband service availability at public schools, libraries, hospitals, colleges, universities, and public buildings. The national map will also be searchable by address and show the broadband providers offering service in the corresponding census block or street segment.