Connected Nation reportedly announced it will soon release Census Block level broadband data for the state of Minnesota in a downloadable format, as well as accessible via an interactive Web based mapping tool.
The agency, which is a national nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, also announced that it will soon be releasing state wide maps of rural and remote areas in Tennessee, Ohio, Minnesota, Nevada, North Carolina, Kansas, and Kentucky.
This dual announcement comes close on the heels its recent press release in which it announced it has created broadband coverage maps with the help of a Geographic Information System solution, ArcGIS, from ESRI, which was originally called the Environmental Systems Research Institute, in an effort to provide competitive advantage during the funding application process for $4 billion in broadband grants and loans available through the U.S. American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“These maps and data tools will give state leaders, community advocates, and broadband providers a better understanding of areas eligible for broadband stimulus funds,” said Laura Taylor, Chief Analyst of Connected Nation (News - Alert).
ARRA has set aside $7.2 billion for the development of broadband and Wi-B in USA and $350 million from this fund reservoir is earmarked for Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2008. $2.5 Billion of the $7.2 billion is set aside for low-interest loans, loan guarantees and grants at RDUP’s discretion and that the remaining $4.7 billion is allotted for the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration to decide on grants to deserving companies and technologies via its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
In addition, there is another $1.3 billion set aside in the form of loans and grants to enhance broadband and telecommunications services in rural areas within the federal budget for the fiscal year 2010.
The maps are detailed to the extent of customizing and including s broadband availability, street, household, household density, wireless towers, and census block levels, said officials, and the software gives service providers, businesses, and consumers a way to simply access the broadband coverage information.
The ArcGIS technology also combines service data from more than 30 broadband providers with household demographic information to guarantee relevant information. Connected Nation said it has taken the initiative the Broadband Data Improvement Act state initiative grant program and says its proven programs are aligned with the goals and guidelines of ARRA.
Officials at the organization said that other states are keen on joining this new initiative and have cited the example of Colorado, which has partnered with Connected Nation to build a broadband inventory map and has already developed a map of rural and remote areas through its Office of Information Technology.
The maps allow maximized zoom views and segregation, via color codes, the areas deemed rural, remote, and non-rural, according to definitions in the broadband stimulus rules released on July 1 by the NTIA and RDUP, said officials, and that applications for broadband infrastructure grants and loans will be measured, in part, based on what percent of the proposed broadband service area is rural and what percent is remote.
Connected Nation, NTIA and RDUP had recently presented their progress, status and recommendations reports about facilitating every American citizen with broadband infrastructure as per the directives mentioned in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) 2009 to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, and the Internet.
The overall was that the best and most progressive results happened when the government and private companies collaborated to expand and set up broadband related infrastructure. There was also a heavy emphasis that collaborative efforts would help companies and countries come out of financial tailspin that the entire world is in, and it was listed as one of the seven critical Consumer Electronic Show 2009 guidelines.
“States that are working cooperatively with broadband providers to create maps of broadband availability are at the greatest advantage for maximizing stimulus dollars,” Taylor said.
Currently, approximately $7 billion in stimulus funds have been designated to help expand broadband access to underserved communities across the U.S. These funds are available through the NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program and the RUS’s Broadband Initiatives Program.
“These maps and data tools will give state leaders, community advocates, and broadband providers a better understanding of areas eligible for broadband stimulus funds,” Taylor said “States that are working cooperatively with broadband providers to create maps of broadband availability are at the greatest advantage for maximizing stimulus dollars.”
Vivek Naik is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Vivek's articles, please visit his columnist page.
Edited by Amy Tierney