This month marks the one year anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that created the Broadband Opportunity Council (Council), a federal inter-agency council, tasked with using all available and appropriate authorities to identify and address regulatory barriers to broadband deployment and adoption.  My former BroadbandUSA colleagues at the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications & Information (NTIA) are quite busy implementing the recommendations from the Council’s Report (Report), released last year.

In just a few weeks, BroadbandUSA will host a half-day workshop on the Community Connectivity Initiative, designed to enable local leaders to better assess their community connectivity and strengthen efforts to align broadband technology with local policies and priorities.  The March 22ndworkshop, to be held in Seattle, will engage stakeholders in developing meaningful measures for community broadband access, adoption, policy and use. Specifically, participants will have the opportunity to share insights and suggestions on the design of the program.  Several weeks later, on March 24 and April 12, BroadbandUSA will host two follow-up webinars.

The Report recommended that NTIA, with support from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and National Economic Council (NEC):

“convene a series of stakeholder forums to develop an index program that encourages advancements and investments in community connectivity. Stakeholders will include private, public, philanthropic and nonprofit groups with interests in leveraging broadband to support innovation, economic growth and digital inclusion. The index program will identify indicators of community connectivity in a range of categories related to broadband deployment, competition, and adoption, such as average broadband speed and adoption rates, local/regional policies that support broadband, digital inclusion policies, public access points and online applications such as telehealth, digital learning or e-government.”

The Report identified the goals of the program as 1) providing a framework and tools for communities to learn about the factors that influence a community’s connectivity; 2) mobilizing community action and coordination to improve connectivity; 3) encouraging and recognizing innovative policies and programs; and 4) attracting economic development and investment.

Companies, non-profits and other entities with an interest in public-private partnerships that focus on bringing broadband to communities across the country, whether urban, rural or Tribal, as well as those seeking to use broadband as a means to improve outcomes in health, education, public safety, civic engagement and economic development should consider attending either the in-person workshop or one of the webinars to share expertise and determine whether to participate in the Community Connectivity Intuitive.

The Workshop will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 12:00 noon PST in the Chief Seattle Conference Room of the Federal Office Building (FOB), 909 1st Avenue, Seattle, WA 98174.   NTIA will also host a first webinar on March 24, 2016, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST and a second webinar on April 12, 2016, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST.   To attend either the in-person workshop or the webinars, participants must register in advance.

With the Council agencies implementing the recommendations from the Report, we expect to see more activity from the BroadbandUSA team and the Council member agencies in the coming months ahead and will continue to monitor its progress.