BTOP in Action

Instructor teaches woman how to use a laptop.

The Toledo Telephone Company, in partnership with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe, has helped more than 300 community members learn basic computer functionality, Internet, and email skills through intensive classes. Upon successful completion of the course, participants also receive a laptop and two years of free broadband service.

Based on the success of the initial program, Toledo Telephone Company expanded their course offerings to include an auxiliary course to 40 additional participants each month. The auxiliary course’s curriculum covers a wide variety of topics, including Microsoft ® Office productivity software. When several senior citizen community members expressed an interested in learning how to share digital photos, Toledo Telephone Company also developed an Adobe ® Photoshop course.

All of these classes are part of a countywide initiative to increase broadband adoption through computer equipment and digital literacy education relevant to the Lewis County community and Cowlitz tribal members. Some community members that have successfully completed the course have implemented their computer knowledge in the workplace. One participant, who previously hand wrote her column for a local Toledo newspaper, now composes her article using her laptop and submits by email.

Last Updated: December 7, 2011

A view of the newly renovated Kent Branch @ccess Center

On December 5, 2011, Toledo-Lucas County Public Library reopened a newly renovated public computer center. The renovation of the Kent Branch @ccess Center included upgrading 109 computers, increasing broadband speeds and enhancing career-building resources. Since the opening, the center now offers free workforce development workshops and mentoring sessions to help individuals acquire the skills needed to find and retain jobs.

The @ccess Center has been able to acquire SMART® Board interactive whiteboards, build a new research lab for group collaboration, and offer classes to help visitors become more competitive in today’s digital job market. The whiteboards allow instructors and students to digitally write on the board and interact with digital training materials. The center offers a wide variety of classes to help visitors develop digital literacy and workforce skills, including classes in computer basics, Internet fundamentals, and productivity software, such as Microsoft® Office, resume creation and interview preparation.

The @ccess Center is also providing classes on how to find and apply for jobs online since many Toledo-Lucas County businesses in Toledo-Lucas County are recruiting online. The @ccess Center provides workshops and individual assistance with job searching, email basics, and online applications. The center has already helped many of its visitors apply and interview for jobs at local manufacturing plants, as well as a newly opened casino, since each of these businesses has moved their hiring practices online

The library’s ultimate goal is to help Toledo-Lucas County residents improve their lives through computer resources and educational opportunities. In addition to the @ccess Center, the library funded the Cybermobile, a state-of-the-art mobile technology center complete with broadband Internet access. Funded by BTOP, this “classroom on wheels” is equipped with 12 desktop computers and provides broadband and digital literacy training to residents who are unable to commute to the @ccess Center.

A view of the new Cybermobile
A worker directs a construction drill.

Troy Cablevision, Inc. connected approximately 140 community anchor institutions to its network through June 2013. Troy’s Southeast Alabama SmartBand -Rural Broadband for Economic Development and Energy Management project is deploying a 474-mile fiber optic network to provide broadband infrastructure in six southeast Alabama counties: Pike, Crenshaw, Coffee, Dale, Montgomery, and Dothan. Community anchor institutions in the six counties, including public safety entities, K-12 schools, libraries, community colleges, healthcare facilities, and government buildings, typically lack Internet access at the speeds necessary to provide key services like Next Generation 911, distance learning, and telemedicine. Troy Cablevision also formed a public-private partnership with the South Alabama Electric Cooperative to enable advanced “smartgrid” energy management services for approximately 17,000 electricity consumers in Crenshaw, Pike, and Coffee counties, significantly improving energy efficiency in the region. Troy plans to support economic growth by providing redundant fiber rings, including two backhaul routes to Atlanta, enabling the high-capacity, reliablebroadband capabilities required to attract businesses to the region.

Members from U.S. UCAN and Internet2 attend the Spring 2011 meeting

In March 2011, the University Corporation for Advanced Internet Development (UCAID), also known as Internet2, began upgrading its advanced middle-mile backbone network in support of the United States Unified Community Anchor Network (U.S. UCAN) project. Extending across 50 states, this upgraded network will enable high-speed broadband connectivity for up to 121,000 additional community anchor institutions. The project is a large-scale, public-private partnership that will interconnect more than 30 existing research and education networks, creating a dedicated fiber-optic backbone that will enable advanced broadband capabilities such as video multicasting, telemedicine, distance learning, and other life-changing Internet-based applications. UCAID’s BTOP-funded fiber-optic network will also offer more than 8.8 TBps of capacity.

As of July 2011, UCAID has upgraded and activated more than 4,828 miles of its proposed 16,312 mile fiber network. In addition, UCAID anticipates the first coast-to-coast links, from New York City to Sunnyvale, Calif., to be installed and operational this summer with the entire network expected to be completed by early 2013.

In addition to the network infrastructure, UCAID also initiated outreach and awareness-building activities to demonstrate how advanced broadband applications and services could be deployed throughout the United States. In April 2011, UCAID hosted an annual two-day conference meeting in Arlington, VA, where more than 65 members attended to receive a status update on the project’s construction efforts and learned about the new services the organization will provide through the advanced network.

Last Updated: October 18, 2011

Two technicians install optical and routing equipment
A class from Angoon City School watches a Digital Storytelling presentation

The University of Alaska Fairbanks is breaking down the digital divide in remote villages across the state, using a three-prong approach to increase sustainable broadband adoption. Through the Bridging the E-Skills Gap project, the university partners with approximately 20 non-profit, educational, and for-profit organizations to create distance learning, public safety, and telehealth opportunities.

For example, the Alaska Library Network provides free access to two new distance learning tools at state libraries. The first, Live Homework Help, is an online educational portal that offers live homework tutors to K-12 students seven days a week. The second, the Testing Educational Reference Center, is an online resource where patrons can access study guides, practice tests, and tutoring videos for school entrance and career certification exams. Library visitors can use the tool to prepare for tests, such as the GED, SAT, and the Reciprocal Electrician Journeyman License exam.

Another project partner, the Family Centered Services of Alaska, installed two video conference centers in Fairbanks to provide distance learning classes, professional development workshops, and even family therapy sessions to low-income families. The Alaska Postsecondary Commission is in the process of creating the College and Career Guide, an online portal that allows students to develop career plans, research and apply to colleges and postsecondary institutions, and find scholarships and other financial aid. Yet another project partner, the Alaska Native Tribal Consortium, offers a Telehealth Coordinator Certification Program for medical professionals. This three-course program helps individuals become certified workers skilled in the use and application of telehealth applications and videoconferencing equipment.

The University also created the Digital Storytelling-Performance Literacy program to teach K-12 students how to digitally write and tell their own culturally relevant stories. For example, Angoon, Alaska, is a small village with a population of less than 500 people, the majority of whom identify as Tlingit Indians. The Digital Storytelling program taught K-12 students at Angoon City Schools how to turn their stories into podcasts and share them with family members and friends around the country. This program improves the familiarity of students with computers and mobile devices, and encourages participants to use broadband technology to stay connected with loved ones.

So far, the University has encouraged more than 7,800 households and nearly 900 businesses to subscribe to broadband service.

A class from Angoon City School performs their presentations
A doctor watches nurse perform an ultrasound via a video screen with a live feed

The University of Arkansas System deployed more than 2,200 miles of fiber through June 2013. The Arkansas e-Link project is integrating two existing, previously unconnected networks, the Arkansas Telehealth Network and the Arkansas Research and Education Optical Network (AREON). It is providing upgraded broadband and/or equipment to more than 420 community anchor institutions in order to create a comprehensive statewide network for healthcare, higher education, research, and public safety services.

Through Arkansas e-Link, rural patients receive real-time consultation from medical specialists through interactive video telemedicine, allowing local doctors to collaborate with medical specialists to manage complex conditions. For instance, OB-GYN specialists in Little Rock are available to provide treament, diagnoses, and prenatal care protocols before the delivery of a baby at a remote clinic. After delivery, the local doctor and specialist collaborate on high-risk cases to determine if a Medical Evacuation (MEDEVAC) transportation to a Little Rock Intensive Care Unit (ICU) is necessary for either the infant or mother. This collaboration is critical to save lives and reduce medical costs as the cost of transportation is approximately $25,000 per instance.

In addition, BTOP funds are used to help fund the Arkansas SAVES (Stroke Assistance through Virtual Emergency Support) program. With telemedicine, patients suffering from stroke symptoms receive life-saving, specialized treatment from a neurologist at another location. One patient from Searcy, Arkansas, said, “I didn't know anything about the SAVES program, but I am so thankful it was there for me…I went back to teaching a month after the stroke; I’m fine. The doctor said it was as if I had never had the stroke.”

A patient in a doctor’s office speaks with a nurse using video conferencing.

The University of California, Davis (UC Davis) increased institutional adoption of broadband services offered by the California Telehealth Network (CTN). UC Davis developed 60 online lessons to support transitions to technology-enabled health care, and more than 450 individuals accessed the material through the eHealth Training website. Additionally, eHealth course content created for nursing, medical assistant, and computer information sciences students was available for community college faculty to reference in the development of their own curriculum. Instructors had also accessed content such as Technical Project Management and the Importance of Broadband for Health Care Delivery. UC Davis also engaged consumers by installing ExploreHealth kiosks in community anchor sites. The kiosks are web-based portals that helped users access health information on the Internet.

A construction crew works outside an elementary school.

The University of Hawaii System provided access to more than 340 community anchor institutions through June 2013 as part of the Ke Ala ‘Ike, “pathway to knowledge,” project. Additionally, University of Hawaii System has deployed more than 400 new network miles and upgraded approximately 650 network miles. Once complete, the statewide network will provide high-speed Internet access to every public school, higher education facility, and public library statewide.

One K-12 school, Blanche Pope Elementary, received upgraded services, at speeds of up to 1 GB, in time to begin the 2012-2013 school year. In November 2012, Blanche Pope Elementary was selected as one of Hawaii’s nominees for the Blue Ribbon Schools program in recognition of academic achievement. In addition, the Ke Ala ‘Ike project is working with the Hawaii Department of Education to help struggling schools in areas that have many economically-disadvantaged and native Hawaiian students. The project has already connected four high schools in these zones.

Job seeker sits at a computer.

The University of Massachusetts – Lowell is boosting sustainable broadband adoption among low-income youth, the unemployed, adults without college degrees, and senior citizens leveraging an intergenerational approach and diverse set of nonprofit partners. Through the Lowell Internet, Networking and Knowledge: Sustaining Broadband Access Across the Generations project, UMass Lowell has 10 program sites and provided digital literacy and workforce development classes for more than 238,000 seniors, unemployed young adults, and at-risk teens. Participants have received more than 15,300 hours of training in basic computer skills, video game development and digital media editing, and Internet entrepreneurship.

For example, at the Amesbury, Lawrence, and Salisbury senior centers, the university conducts basic computer skills classes, teaching residents Internet fundamentals. At the United Teen Equality Center, young adult trainers provide video game development and digital media editing classes, preparing teenagers for possible careers in broadcasting or Internet entrepreneurship. In addition, UMass Lowell partners with Community Teamwork, Inc., a no-profit organization that is integrating digital literacy training into job readiness programs to help low-income individuals become self-sufficient. As of June 2013, the program has recorded 7,500 new broadband subscribers.

BroadbandUSA sign outside Red Mountain Elementary School in Utah.

The University of Utah connected more than 140 anchor institutions, including elementary schools, public libraries, and charter schools, to the Utah Education Network (UEN) through June 2013. The connections allowed these facilities to move from slower Internet connections to fiber-based broadband connections capable of speeds up to 100 megabits per second (Mbps). The university also plans to enhance broadband services at a Head Start center on the Ute Indian Reservation, promoting school readiness and cognitive development of young tribal members.

BTOP in Action

A view of ICN’s lab equipment used for testing the configuration Iowa Communications Network

The Iowa Communications Network (ICN) project, known as Bridging the Digital Divide for Iowa’s...

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