Sunday, April 1, 2012

Broadband Spurs Access

In Wisconsin, a group called the Chippewa Valley Inter-networking Consortium (CINC) operates an extensive broadband network connecting 150 schools, libraries, hospitals, clinics, technical colleges, and universities across the Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls region. NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program through Building Community Capacity through Broadband (BCCB) is now expanding the original community area network and services.

BCCB is using $30 million to lay down more than 600 miles of fiber to extend the network in Eau Claire and Chippewa Falls to create new community area networks in Platteville, Wausau, and Superior. The public-private project is being spearheaded by the University of Wisconsin Extension program, but has many partners, including dozens of local governments and school districts.

When the BCCB project is complete in 2013, with critical middle-mile infrastructure supplied, commercial carriers will be able to bring broadband to as many as 139,000 households and 9,000 businesses in demonstration communities. BCCB officials envision everything from mobile computer labs run by local libraries to greater file sharing among healthcare facilities.

The project will also fund hybrid WiMAX/Wi-Fi networks in rural areas and deliver data connections up to 10 gigabits per second to 182 anchor institutions including healthcare facilities.

In March, NTIA announced investments for $160 million available through NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities program (BTOP) and funded by ARRA, would continue to help bridge the technological divide and improve healthcare. Broadband adoption will increase in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Texas, Wisconsin, and West Virginia.

Of the 23 grants made through BTOP, ten grants went to not only schools, businesses, and government agencies, but also grants were to be used to help healthcare providers, healthcare facilities, medical centers, and provide for healthcare related applications.

These ten grants went to California--$3.3 million, Florida--$2.1 million, Georgia--$1.4 million, Illinois—Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois ($22.5 million), Kansas--$998,000, Massachusetts--$32 million, Oregon—Lane Council of Governments ($8.3 million), Puerto Rico—Iniciativa Technologica Centro Oriental, Inc. ($12.9 million), Tennessee--$1.3 million, and Texas--$4.7 million.