Broadband access jeopardized by GOP action in Wisconsin

Private companies complain that a broadband grant to the UW system is unfair for competition.

**Update: Wisconsin state legislators have backed off their controversial plan to cut $37 million in federal broadband money from the University of Wisconsin system amid sharp protest from the state’s schools. For details, see here.**

A federally funded effort to expand broadband service in Wisconsin is in jeopardy because some state officials don’t think the recipient of the grant, the University of Wisconsin (UW) system, should get the money. The grant to a public university makes it harder for private companies to compete in delivering broadband service, they say.

Area lawmakers from both parties are voicing concerns over a provision added to the proposed state budget to strip federal stimulus funding from a project to build telecommunications infrastructure—including high-speed, broadband internet cables—in the Chippewa Valley and elsewhere in Wisconsin.…Read More

Mobile technology adoption could help Hispanics in higher ed

Hispanic broadband use jumped from 28 percent in 2004 to 68 percent in 2008.

Hispanics in the U.S. use mobile devices and social media more than any other demographic, while colleges and universities adopt both technologies as key parts of course work.

Almost 90 percent of Hispanics own a mobile device, with 53 percent using their smart phone to access the internet, according to research detailing Hispanics’ use of mobile technology and social sites like Twitter and Facebook, released May 17 by The Hispanic Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization.

Eight in 10 whites included in the study said they have a mobile device, and one-third said they peruse the web with their phone.…Read More

Stimulus funding brings broadband to rural homes, schools

President Obama emphasized the importance of high-speed internet access in his State of the Union address.

Up in rural northern Vermont, it took until the 1960s to run power lines to some towns—decades after the rest of America got turned on. These days, it’s the digital revolution that remains but a rumor in much of rural America.

Dial-up user Val Houde knows this as well as anybody. After moving to East Burke, Vt., four years ago, the 51-year-old mother of four took a correspondence course for medical transcription, hoping to work from home.

She plunked down $800, took the course, then found out the software wasn’t compatible with dial-up internet, the only kind available to her.…Read More

Troubling gaps still exist in broadband use

A survey last year found that 35 percent of Americans do not use broadband at home.

The U.S. still faces a significant gap in residential broadband use that breaks down along incomes, education levels, and other socio-economic factors, even as subscriptions among American households overall grew sevenfold between 2001 and 2009.

What’s more, even when controlling for key socio-economic characteristics, the U.S. continues to confront a racial gap in residential broadband use, with non-Hispanic white Americans and Asian-Americans more likely to go online using a high-speed connection than African-Americans and Hispanics.

Those are some of the key conclusions of a new analysis of Census data being released Nov. 8 by the Commerce Department. It found that the percentage of households that connect to the internet using broadband grew to 63.5 percent in 2009 from 9.2 percent in 2001, reflecting increases across nearly all demographics.…Read More

Broadband grants include $63M for 100-gigabit research network

Federal funding will provide more broadband access to BYU students in Idaho.
Federal funding will provide more broadband access to students across the nation.

Colleges and universities will be among the anchor institutions in an ultra high-speed nationwide internet network after President Obama on July 2 announced more than $760 million in grants designed to expand broadband web access.

The Departments of Commerce and Agriculture will dole out the federal broadband funding, which will go to 66 recipients, including municipalities, web service providers, libraries, and colleges, according to the White House.

Federal officials estimate that the funds will create 5,000 jobs in the nation’s slumping economy.…Read More