Co n n ec t ed Connect Ohio Quarterly
Every Citizen Online Program Sees Early Success Rural Utilities Service Announces $25M Funding Availability Providers Offer Savings to ECO Participants
National Broadband Map In February, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) launched the National Broadband Map. The launch of the National Broadband Map is a milestone that will help broadband service providers make wise investments and identify the areas more clearly where the digital divide exists. It can make a real difference in both economic development and the daily lives of many citizens. Connect Ohio and our partners across the state played an important role in creating this tool, contributing the data of more than 104 broadband service providers and 22,805 community anchor institutions. The National Broadband Map is a tool to search, analyze, and map broadband availability across the United States. It is created and maintained by the NTIA, in collaboration with the Federal Communications Commission, and in partnership with 50 states, five territories, and the District of Columbia. Key features to the map include: • Interactive and searchable • Shows multiple speed tiers • Visible by Technology Platform (cable, DSL, fiber, fixed wireless, etc.) • Provides geographic data comparisons View the map: http://broadbandmap.gov/
In the Community Connect Ohio has started the planning and production of new public service announcements (PSAs) to educate Ohio residents of the free training classes being offered across the state that are teaching Ohioans the basics of computer and Internet usage. Broadband service providers are encouraged to take advantage of the Every Citizen Online (ECO) television and radio PSAs for their own company use. The PSAs can be customized with a provider’s name and logo. Additional promotional opportunities through broadband service providers will increase exposure of the ECO program to Ohioans and, in turn, increase program participants and new broadband adopters. What a great opportunity to increase subscribership and providers’ customer base exponentially! If interested, please call 1-866-881-9494 or e-mail Amanda Murphy at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the ECO program, please visit http://connectohio.org/consumer_training/
Executive Director, Connect Ohio
Connect Ohio is a nonprofit, technology-neutral, public-private partnership that works with telecommunications providers,business and community leaders, information technology companies, researchers, public agencies, libraries and universities in an effort to help extend affordable high-speed Internet service to every Ohio household.
Table of Contents
For more information about what Connect Ohio is doing to accelerate technology in Ohio’s communities, visit: www.connectohio.org.
Every Citizen Online Program Sees Early Success..................... 3 Every Citizen Online Goes Viral....................................................4 Rural Utilities Service Announces $25M Funding Availability.... 4 Providers Offer Savings to ECO Participants.............................. 5 Satellite Service for Rural Ohioans Funded by ARRA................ 6 Small Central Ohio WISP Connects College to High-Speed Internet..................................................................6 Partner Spotlight: Ohio Association of Broadcasters.................7 USDA Rural Broadband Loan Program Updated......................7
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Columbus Metropolitan Library ECO training class
Every Citizen Online Program Sees Early Success The Every Citizen Online (ECO) program providing free basic computer and Internet training to Ohio adults launched in late December 2010, with many sub-recipients’ classes beginning in January 2011. The instructor-led and self-paced training is being offered in more than 180 locations throughout the state with the help of libraries, community colleges, and education centers. The initial response to the ECO program has been quite positive. Many classes are full or near-full for each training session. “We have 8 to 10 participants per class and can hold 11,” said Blythe Schubert, director of the Kate Love Simpson Morgan County Library in southeastern Ohio. The Columbus Metropolitan Library received more than 600 phone calls inquiring about the ECO program within the first few weeks of starting classes. “That huge number tells us in a quantitative way that there is a great need for basic computer training in our community,” said Steve Hipes, ECO project manager for the library. Through the end of February, nearly 1,000 Ohio adults have completed the ECO training and gained the skills to communicate with friends and family members through e-mail, apply for jobs online, gain knowledge of favorite topics and hobbies, and more. “Online bill pay would be very convenient for me,” shared Barb Queen, ECO participant at the Pioneer Career and Technical Center in northern Ohio. “I wouldn’t have to drive 15 minutes to pay my bills like I do now.” Connect Ohio and the ECO training partners continue promoting the free program through local and state media outlets, word-of-mouth, promotional fliers and bookmarks, as well as the ECO public service announcements airing on television and radio stations and printed in 95 newspapers throughout Ohio. l
Instructor-led ECO classes, as well as self-paced courses, are being offered at over 180 locations throughout the state.
Every Citizen Online Goes Viral The Every Citizen Online (ECO) program has gone viral with the launch of a YouTube video contest. The contest launched February 1 and runs through March 22. Entries must be 30- and 60-second public service announcements showing how broadband has helped students, grandparents, non-profit organizations â€Ś or anyone. The creative ideas will be used as PSA concepts for new ECO PSAs to air on TV and radio throughout Ohio. The director of the winning video will receive an Apple iPad, as well as the opportunity to star in the PSAs. The video contest has already created a social media buzz and 9 entries have been received thus far. To view all contest submissions or to enter your own, visit connectohio.org and click on Connect Ohioâ€™s Video Contest. You can also check out entries on our YouTube channel at http://youtube.com/OhioBroadband.
Rural Utilities Service Announces $25M Funding Availability The Rural Utilities Service (RUS), an agency of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), recently announced the availability of $25 million in funding for Fiscal Year 2011 for its Community Connect Broadband Grant program.
The deadline to submit applications for the Community Connect Broadband Grant program is May 3, 2011. For more information on this program, visit http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/ utp_commconnect.html.
The Community Connect program specifically seeks to improve broadband service in rural communities to improve quality of life. The awarded funds can be used to build broadband infrastructure, as well as to provide free public access to broadband by creating a community center. Areas eligible for the grants are communities without broadband which are located outside cities with a population of 20,000 or more. Grants are available to private, non-profit, and government organizations.
The most recent Ohio awardees of the Community Connect grant were GMNTri-County CAC, Inc. and Chillicothe Telephone Company in 2007. GMNTri-County CAC received $316,840 to deploy wireless broadband in Monroe County, as well as equip the Graysville Volunteer Fire Department and Bethel Ambulance Service with free Wi-Fi access. Chillicothe Telephone Company was awarded $603,200 to deploy a fiber-to-the-home system in Pickaway County, as well as to provide a new computer lab with free Internet access to those unable to afford computers or home broadband service. l
Connect Ohio Quarterly
Providers Offer Savings to ECO Participants Broadband Internet providers throughout the state are partnering with Connect Ohio to offer Every Citizen Online program graduates special offers for services. These partnerships are a key element to the success of the ECO program. Established goals of the training program include equipping more than 200,000 Ohio adults with basic computer and Internet skills. In turn, Connect Ohio anticipates at least 75,000 of those adults will adopt Internet use into their homes and daily lives. Providers, such as Frontier Communications and Buckeye Cablevision, Inc., are already offering exciting service discounts to these new adopters. After Ohioans complete the ECO training, they are directed to a listing of the special offers in their area. These incentives include such offers as reduced monthly service charges, discounted or free computing equipment, or a combination of both.
The following is a list of providers already partnering with Connect Ohio and the list continues to grow.
If you are a broadband provider and would like to partner with Connect Ohio and the Every Citizen Online program, please e-mail Amanda Murphy at email@example.com. l
Over 1,000 Ohio adults have completed the Every Citizen Online training. At program completion, over 200,000 will have learned basic computer and Internet skills through the ECO training.
Satellite Service for Rural Ohioans Funded by ARRA In August 2010, $100 million was awarded to 4 satellite service companies throughout the country to fund equipment, installation, and activation of services to rural homes and businesses not served by traditional broadband providers. The funds were made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) through the Rural Utilities Service (RUS). Hughes Network Systems is the satellite provider offering the service for rural Ohio areas. Hughes Network Systems was awarded $58 million of the grant for nationwide satellite services and is expected to connect over 258,000 people and 3,200 businesses. For qualifying addresses, the grant will fund satellite equipment, installation, and activation of services at no cost and the monthly cost of satellite services must be economically feasible - $50 or less for at least one year.
According to a press release from the company, eligible households can choose from three HughesNet® service plans with no installation or equipment charges. Because the initiative is designed to help bring broadband access to households that do not have it, Recovery Act Funds are only available to new customers. Households that currently have–or have access to–high-speed Internet service are not eligible. The offer will expire once the funds are depleted. To see if your home or business address qualifies for this program, go to http://hughesnet.com/ and click on For Your Residence or call 866-928-7479. You can view whether traditional providers service your area and who those providers are through Connect Ohio’s BroadbandStat interactive map. Go to http://connectohio.org/ mapping_and_research/interactive_map.php and click on the map graphic in the middle of the screen. l
Small Central Ohio WISP Connects College to High-Speed Internet Larry Schriver was a participant in the Ohio Broadband Provider Business Opportunity Webinar hosted by Connect Ohio in February 2010. During the meeting, Shriver learned a small college in northern Madison County, Rosedale Bible College, was without access to high-speed Internet. Shriver’s company, Country Connections, was already working to expand wireless Internet access in Madison County, as well as other Central Ohio rural counties. Shriver contacted the college and promised the school of less than 100 students high-speed connectivity by fall 2010.
minimal Internet service at speeds that were not adequate for multiple computers with simultaneous connectivity.
It wasn’t an easy task to connect Rosedale Bible College.
The expansion of service to the college has led Country Connections to further growth in Madison County.
“The college was about 20 miles from the closest service point,” said Schriver. The company added 5 tower access points in the area, placing them atop existing grain legs, which are attached to tall grain elevators. The access points relay the Internet signal by radio to other grain legs, which brings the signal to a fiber connection in Washington Court House in the southern part of central Ohio. Country Connections had the college connected to wireless Internet at speeds of up to 6 Megabits before fall classes began, and now has the capacity to increase the connection speeds for future needs.
“The students at Rosedale Bible College use the Internet for research and for social networking,” said Ken Miller, director of public relations at the college. “The increased service from Country Connections has allowed students to access with greater ease – decreasing frustration with slow or locked up computers and allowing for more effectiveness when working on class projects.”
“One year ago, we had about 30 customers in Madison County,” said Schriver. “We expect to have over 300 by 2012.” The company now covers about 70% of the county and an additional 15% is covered by other providers. While that leaves a few areas still without high-speed Internet access, Shriver and his company continue to battle terrain and economic feasibility in an effort to provide coverage for every business and household they can. For more information on Country Connections, visit http:// countryconnections.net/. l
Before service from Country Connections, the college had only
Connect Ohio Quarterly
PARTNER Spotlight: Ohio Association of Broadcasters The Ohio Association of Broadcasters (OAB) provides an important service to the Every Citizen Online (ECO) program. The nonprofit association is one of the oldest state broadcast associations in the country and has more than 95% of Ohio television stations and 80% of Ohio radio stations as members. The OAB is distributing Connect Ohio’s ECO spots to its 300+ member radio and television stations for help with broadcasting the 15-, 30-, and 60-second messages throughout the entire state. With the OAB’s help, the free basic computer training message is being broadcast thousands of times each month, reaching a large portion of the 4.4 million households in the state. “The Ohio Association of Broadcasters, and our member radio and television stations around the state, are pleased to have a role in promoting the valuable training and resources available through Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online program,” said Christine Merritt, president of the OAB. With the OAB and its members’ commitment, Connect Ohio anticipates equipping more than 200,000 Ohio adults with basic computer and Internet skills and helping more than 75,000 of those adults adopt broadband use into their homes and daily lives. For more information on the OAB, visit http://www.oab.org/. For more about the ECO program, visit http://connectohio.org/ consumer_training/.
USDA Rural Broadband Loan Program Updated The USDA released new information for applicants for its broadband loan program for rural areas. The program is designed to provide loans for the costs of construction, improvement, and acquisition of facilities and equipment to provide broadband service to eligible rural communities. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the USDA has issued a Notice of Solicitations of Applications and regulations implementing the 2008 Farm Bill for the broadband loan program. “Broadband investments are an essential part of the Obama Administration’s effort to ‘win the future’ by out-innovating, outeducating, and out-building our global competitors,” Vilsack said in the announcement. “Investments in rural broadband networks create jobs and economic opportunity for rural America. Broadband is critical communications infrastructure of the twenty-first century, and it is vital to building vibrant rural communities.” The notice is being issued prior to passage of a final appropriations act to allow applicants time to submit proposals and give the agency time to process applications within the current fiscal year, according to the USDA. Upon completion of a 2011 Appropriations Act, RUS will publish a subsequent
notice identifying the amount of funding available for broadband loans. The application guide to assist in preparing applications is available at: http://www.rurdev.usda.gov/utp_ farmbill.html. USDA’s Farm Bill broadband loan program has invested more than $1 billion over the past decade in more than 100 projects nationwide, according to the USDA announcement. RUS is planning to schedule training opportunities to educate applicants on new program requirements, and how to submit complete and competitive applications. Dates for the training will be published on the USDA website. l
The USDA has issued a Notice of Solicitations of Applications and regulations implementing the 2008 Farm 7 Bill for the broadband loan program.
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