BTOP in Action
The Northwest Open Access Network (NoaNet) deployed more than 320 miles of new fiber through June 2013. These new miles are part of NoaNet’s plans to spur local business development, support better health care, and enhance educational opportunities through an expansion of its existing high-speed network in Washington state. NoaNet will deploy a total of 503 new miles of fiber to bring broadband connectivity to schools and community institutions in rural areas currently hampered by slow Internet and data connections.
In 2011, the project broke ground on 19 project sites, including one in the rural community of Deming, where NoaNet connected several schools and other community facilities to high-speed Internet service for the first time. Once the network is complete, NoaNet’s expansion is expected to promote more affordable broadband access across the state for approximately 380,000 households, 18,000 businesses, and 1,300 anchor institutions, including government offices, public safety and medical centers, and schools.
The Oklahoma Office of State Finance deployed more than 820 miles of new fiber through June 2013, as well as upgraded or leased an additional 1,300 miles. This infrastructure comprises part of the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN), a collaborative effort to extend and complete an existing state network, OneNet, to bring affordable broadband service to community anchor institutions in rural communities across the state.
OCAN plans to build or upgrade approximately 2,220 miles of new and existing fiber, nearly doubling the OneNet network, and providing service to 59 Oklahoma counties, including some of the most economically distressed areas in the northwestern and southeastern portions of the state. Once completed, the network will improve broadband service at education, public safety, and healthcare institutions in the region, including Southeastern Oklahoma State University, Western Oklahoma State College, Lawton Indian Hospital’s Indian Health Services Unit, and the state’s Council on Law Enforcement Education and Training locations.
OneCommunity’s “Connect Your Community” project has provided computer training to 3,000 citizens across several cities including Cleveland and Akron, Ohio; Detroit, Mich.; Lexington, Ky.; and Bradenton, Fla. Aimed at expanding broadband adoption in low-income communities, the program teaches participants computer basics, Internet fundamentals, online safety and privacy tips, and software functionality. Participants must also develop an adoption plan, mapping out a personal approach and timeline to acquiring access to broadband and regularly using a computer.
BTOP funds have also allowed OneCommunity and its partners in eight communities to hire 105 full-time employees. Individuals hired for these positions are responsible for a variety of tasks including project administration and public broadband training.
The impact of the project can be felt across multiple communities. A total of 1,120 individuals have succesfully completed training classes and fulfilled their personal adoption plan. More than 1,600 individuals have signed up for computer classes in spring 2011. The project’s efforts to expand broadband adoption are evident at Lorain County Community College in Elryia, Ohio, where BTOP funds not only helped 181participants complete a six-week computer training workshop, but also provided each graduate with a refurbished personal computer. To see local news coverage, please visit here.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011
One Economy launched 93 Digital Connector programs in 60 cities around the country after receiving BTOP funds. Aimed at high school and college students, the Digital Connector program encompasses more than 156 hours of training on a variety of topics including computer basics, financial literacy, leadership development, and software training. Students must also contribute 56 hours of community service, using newly acquired computer skills to provide digital literacy training to their neighbors. These community service projects include teaching computer basics, Microsoft Office® productivity software, and Internet fundamentals such as creating e-mails and performing searches.
BTOP funds have also allowed One Economy to connect more than 2,500 housing units across California, Portland, OR Chicago, IL and South Dakota with affordable Internet broadband access. In each housing development, One Economy provides Internet wiring, conducts free training seminars on topics including computer basics and Internet fundamentals, and creates an online community portal where residents can find information on local services. In Northern California alone, One Economy has connected over 1,600 housing units, providing residents with Internet access and digital literacy training. In San Francisco, San Jose, and other nearby communities, over 500 residents have attended training sessions, learning how to access the network, use e-mail, and search for jobs online.
An enormous focus of the project is to increase employment opportunities. The One Economy offices across the country have brought on new full-time employees for support. One Economy is also creating a total of 159 new positions for local residents. Hired as Community Technology Associates, individuals are responsible for managing the on-site wireless network and leading training sessions. As of the end of 2010, One Economy has filled 18 of these positions. To experience the impact up close, view the project’s YouTube page.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011
Libraries conjure up memories of books and learning about new subjects, ideas, and places. Today, OSHEAN Inc.’s BEACON 2.0 project is bringing significantly increased broadband capacity and Internet access to public libraries across Rhode Island so that residents can expand learning beyond the printed word.
Made possible by BTOP funds, the BEACON 2.0 project is using a $21.7 million grant to build a fiber-optic network and a $1.2 million grant to improve public computer centers in Rhode Island’s libraries. The 339-mile fiber-optic network will bring high speed Internet to over 50 community anchor institutions and provide improved access to over 400 schools and libraries across the state. The public computer center portion of the Beacon 2.0 project is led by Ocean State Libraries and will improve capacity, equipment, and training in computer centers at all of Rhode Island’s public libraries.
The Beacon 2.0 Library Computer Centers project will deploy 627 new computer stations in 72 libraries and establish mobile computer centers. OSHEAN and Ocean State Libraries increased the number of mobile labs to 12 after receiving a high level of interest from local libraries. Two multilingual trainers are currently working with libraries to determine how to best address the needs of local communities, including Spanish’ and Portuguese’ speaking populations. Library staff will then teach classes on a wide range of topics from how to set up an e-mail account to how to use Microsoft Office products and how to apply for a job online. The mobile labs will enable libraries to hold training classes without interfering with other visitors’ access to the libraries’ main computer stations. The project team hopes to eventually deploy video teleconferencing equipment in the mobile labs to simulcast programming at other branches or to archive training sessions for later use.
Library computer centers across the state will be further enhanced through the development of the Beacon 2.0 Network. The dedicated network will greatly improve access at schools, libraries, and other community anchor institutions statewide and Beacon 2.0’s 400 Gbps Internet capacity will allow these local institutions to connect up to 50 times faster than the speeds currently available to Rhode Island residents.
Together, the Beacon 2.0 Network and Library Computer Centers will enhance access across the state and extend the Internet’s benefits to all Rhode Islanders. For more information about the organizations and their projects, please see www.oslri.org.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011.
Public Utility District of Pend Oreille County (PUD) in Washington state deployed 573 miles of fiber optics through June 2013. These new miles of fiber are part of PUD’s plans to deploy a 588-mile fiber network to bring affordable broadband access to rural areas of the county in northeastern Washington. Currently, the project employs more than 35 local construction crews that are laying fiber-optic cable. When complete, PUD’s network will deliver broadband Internet services to several rural communities that border Idaho and Canada. This new network also will increase reliability and upgrade broadband speeds to approximately 3,200 households, 360 businesses, and 15 community anchor institutions.
St. Paul, Minnesota celebrated Broadband Access Day on December 9, 2010, in honor of the University of Minnesota’s (UMN) Broadband Access Project (BAP). The University is collaborating with 12 community organizations—four in St. Paul, three in South Minneapolis, and five in North Minneapolis—to expand access to high-speed Internet and the opportunities it brings in many areas of life.
The St. Paul public computer centers (PCCs) held grand opening events on December 9, welcoming representatives from municipal, county, state, and Federal elected offices, as well as community partners and PCC users. A bus took visitors to each of the four sites: Asian Community Technology Center, Hmong American Partnership, Lifetrack Resources, and the YWCA St. Paul.
Through UMN’s $2.9 million BTOP grant, the organization has renovated 11 public computer sites and has created 16 new jobs in the first year of the program. Training classes at each site are targeted at a wide variety of groups including small/disadvantaged/minority-owned businesses, nonprofit organizations, individuals, and community groups. Currently, users can choose from training classes including introductory Internet classes, Microsoft Office® suite basics, job search help, resume building, and college prep. BAP staff develops additional courses as needs arise.
BAP will primarily benefit individual PCC users, a wide range of people from all age groups, unemployed and underemployed, immigrants, and refugees – by helping them develop important computer skills, search for jobs, and enhance their education. In addition, non-profits affected by significant levels of funding cuts will have the opportunity to support staff development and small business owners will learn how to use technology to increase their customer base through online promotions and other communications.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011.
The Santa Fe Civic Housing Authority (SFCHA) opened the new Hopewell Community Center/Public Computer Center on June 3, 2010, and, four days later, kicked off daily classes for the community. Mayor David Coss and children from the neighborhood cut a ribbon to mark the opening. English as a second language and computer classes were almost at capacity from the beginning and General Equivalency Diploma (GED) classes were generating similar interest. The new center will offer broadband access and computer training to low-income families, minorities, and disadvantaged youth as well as disabled and elderly Santa Fe residents. SFCHA expects to complete improvements on a second PCC by fall 2010.
Last Updated: November 22, 2010
The School Board of Miami-Dade County launched the Learn Ideas, Navigate Knowledge (LINK) program in 35 low-income elementary, middle, and high schools across the Miami-Dade County Public Schools district. This program promotes broadband adoption among economically distressed populations by providing the necessary training and equipment to students and their families. The school board partners with non- and for-profit organizations to provide computers, Internet service, and multilingual digital literacy training to participating families.
The LINK program created an Introduction to Computers class through its partnership with The Parent Academy. Through this class, participants learn computer basics, Internet fundamentals, and how to use LINK’s Parent Portal. Once completed, participating families receive a free personal computer and access to its Parent Portal, an online tool that allows parents to view students’ grades and keep in contact with teachers. Additionally, a video of the Introduction to Computers class, available in English, Spanish, and Creole, is pre-loaded onto each computer along with anti-virus and word-processing software.
As of July 2011, BTOP funds have helped the school board distribute computers and provide Internet service to more than 2,400 families. Additionally, BTOP funding has allowed the program to employ instructors from The Parent Academy for its Introduction to Computers class. By the end of the project, the LINK program is expected to provide computers and Internet access to approximately 6,000 households.
Last Updated: October 18, 2011
On June 21, 2011, Sho-Me Technologies, LLC began construction on the first new fiber segment of the Sho-Me MO middle-mile project. Combined with 880 miles of existing fiber, the project will deploy a total of 500 miles of new fiber to complete a 1380-mile fiber network across 30 counties in south and central Missouri. Sixty workers are diligently constructing the network to bring high-speed access to 100 community anchor institutions, including K-12 schools, community colleges, public libraries, health institutions, and various local governments. This middle-mile fiber backbone will enable distance learning and telehealth, enhance public safety applications, and expand opportunities for economic development across Missouri.
As a middle-mile project, Sho-Me MO is a part of a five-year initiative, MoBroadbandNow, launched by Missouri Governor Jay Nixon in 2009. The initiative is seeking to expand broadband accessibility to 95 percent of the total state population, a significant increase from the current projected accessibility of 80 percent. During the State Fair, Sho-Me Technologies’ Jerry Hartman presented project updates to Governor Nixon and other state legislators. The Governor also acknowledged the Sho-Me MO project is advancing his “MoBroadbandNow” initiative to expand broadband access throughout Missouri.
Sho-Me Technologies recently connected the State Fairgrounds near the city of Sedalia to the network, so the Department of Agriculture, State Fair Community College, Sedalia school district buildings, and other public safety agencies operating at the State Fairgrounds could have high-speed Internet access. Missouri’s state government has taken an active role in moving agriculture into the Internet age by educating rural farmers on how to use a variety of online tools. For example, the state is teaching farmers how to use smart energy meters to reduce utility bills through energy efficiency methods. In another class, the state is training farmers how to use broadband and GPS technologies to track weather patterns for crop irrigation. The state is also educating farmers on how to trade commodities in real time with global markets using video conferencing and YouTube instructional videos.
Once completed, the network could provide affordable and accessible broadband service for up to 260,000 households and 66,000 businesses by enabling local Internet service providers to utilize the project’s open network to extend and improve their offerings.
Last Updated: December 7, 2011