Broadband’s ability to expand educational and employment opportunities is especially meaningful for Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing, a community that faces unique challenges in education and that suffers from a rate of unemployment much higher than the national average. Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc. (CSD) intends to expand broadband adoption among people who are deaf and hard of hearing and provide them with online tools to more fully participate in the digital economy. The project proposes to employ a combination of discounted broadband service and specialized computers, technology training from an online state-of-the art support center customized to the community’s needs, public access to videophones at anchor institutions from coast to coast, and a nationwide outreach initiative. Thousands will gain online access to all the Internet has to offer, including sign language interpreters, captioned video services, and other content and functionalities designed especially to advance their educational, employment, and healthcare interests.
U.S. Virgin Islands
|Communication Service for the Deaf, Inc.||$14,988,657||Sustainable Adoption|
|Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority||$3,009,506||Broadband Data & Development|
|Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority||$3,021,867||Public Computer Centers|
|Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority||$58,888,469||Infrastructure|
|Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority SBA||$2,535,082||Sustainable Adoption|
This proposal provides planning support for two broadband planning initiatives. The goal of the first project is to determine whether smart grid applications can be implemented in the USVI, given its current broadband capacity and shared anchor tenant network. The second project will support planning of the national public safety initiative to provide high speed LTE wireless broadband support to police, fire and EMS personnel at mobile locations.
Data Collection, Integration, and Validation:
This project was originally funded for broadband planning activities and two years of data collection. In September of 2010, this project was amended to extend data collection activities for an additional three years and to identify and implement best practices.
VIPFA will begin address file assignment and collection in areas greater than two square miles by year three of the project period. This will be especially valuable because of the current numbering system, which uses a Danish system in some areas and which is non-existent in others. The requested funding covers planning and residence-by-residence assignment of addresses in target areas.
To address the lack of broadband technology access and the relative isolation and economic hardship faced by many Virgin Islands residents, the Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority is proposing a program to establish or upgrade more than 50 public computer centers at libraries and community centers across the territory. The program plans to provide access to more than 700 new computer workstations, training in computer literacy skills, high-definition teleconferencing capabilities, and technology services for small businesses. The project includes 420 new workstations that can be checked out as part of a unique telework program with partner BetterWorld to train island residents for work-at-home call center jobs.
Hurricanes and other heavy storms in the U.S. Virgin Islands often disable communications systems until aerial
wiring can be restored, leaving key institutions like hospitals and public safety agencies without essential
broadband services when they are most needed. The Virgin Islands’ viNGN project proposes to deploy a highspeed
fiber network to the islands of St. Thomas, St. Croix, and St. John, creating a territory-wide middle mile
network and connecting community anchor institutions with reliable high-speed Internet services. The project
also intends to strengthen the Virgin Islands’ external broadband connections through acquisition of 3,720 miles
of undersea cable to Florida and Puerto Rico.
The Virgin Islands Public Finance Authority has formed a public-private partnership with a wide range of broadband-related entities as part of its viNGN network. This comprehensive effort intends to provide digital literacy and job skills training, launch a telework program, and conduct a multifaceted outreach campaign to increase broadband subscribership and stimulate job growth in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Project partner BetterWorld Telecom plans to establish a virtual call center for use by large companies throughout the United States that will recruit teleworkers in the Virgin Islands. The project also proposes to maintain an electronic database and job bank that would be available to local and national employers, documenting key information about program participants who wish to be included, including courses taken, class-hours spent, tests passed, and certifications achieved.