Let’s start today’s broadband roundup with good news out of North Carolina, where seventeen school systems have received major funding in order to
connect schools to the North Carolina Research and Education network (NCREN), a statewide broadband networks that links schools to the University of North Carolina and North Carolina Community College systems online, along others. Once complete, all schools in North Carolina’s 100 counties will have access to online services and resources, including the North Carolina Virtual Public Schools and the Learn and Earn online program.
Meanwhile, in the halls of Washington, the Dow Jones wire (via CNN) is reporting that Sen. John Rockefeller of West Virginia is about to take the helm of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. This could be good news for the push for a National Broadband Strategy A†because, as Dow Jones reports, Rockefeller
is said to be passionate about bringing high-speed Internet access to Americans who don’t have it. In the 1990’s, he co-authored the law subsidizing Internet access at schools and libraries.
Internet buildout and other basic infrastructure development will be a general guiding principle for Rockefeller in creating jobs, supporters said. He is known as an advocate of using monetary incentives to lure businesses into poorer areas. For example, he proposed legislation giving tax credits to companies that offer high-speed Internet in hard-to-serve regions.
The pressing need for expanded broadband in the U.S. is echoed by outgoing FCC Commissioner Deborah T. Tate who, according to a report form the subscription-only TR’s State Newswire, has
stressed the need for continued collaboration at all levels of government to increase broadband deployment across the country.
Tate’s remarks were made at the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ annual convention, where she also
hailed the passage of broadband mapping legislation (S 1492) that became law last month, saying it will spur a more accurate inventory of where broadband is deployed.
This accuracy is important, because the FCC has been somewhat challenged when it comes to accurate definitions of broadband speed and market penetration. In the past, broadband speed has been defined as “anything more than 200 kbps” and market penetration as “available in any given five-digit ZIP code even if there is only one broadband connection within that area.” But as EDN reports, the Broadband Data Improvement Act signed into law by President Bush
codifies several changes that the FCC had already adopted in the last few months, and adds some additional requirements. “It provides a better framework for accurately collecting data about broadband services,” said Mike Paxton, principal analyst of the multimedia group at In-Stat. Although the legislation didn’t go as far as some public interest groups would have liked, he said “anything is an improvement over the old system.”