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Championing the Nation’s Spectrum Engineers: NTIA and ITS Celebrate Engineers Week

February 24, 2021 by Dr. Sheryl Genco, ITS Director

Today marks the beginning of Engineers Week, a very special week recognizing NTIA’s critical national resource: Spectrum Engineers. Across our workforce in DC and our Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS) lab in Boulder, CO, 62 talented and dedicated engineers propel our vital mission forward. ITS is NTIA’s research and engineering laboratory. The engineers that work at ITS apply their expertise so that the U.S. can realize the full potential of telecom and drive a new era of innovation, development, and productivity. Alongside their colleagues in our Office of Spectrum Management, ITS engineers are at the forefront of spectrum research and help lead America’s race to deploy 5G technologies and beyond.

As an engineer myself, I am honored to be the first female director in ITS’ 100 year history. Engineers Week is a 70 year old tradition to foster participation in engineering careers. I believe deeply in the power that STEM careers and education can have on individuals and society, and we at ITS and NTIA remain committed to help ensure that those opportunities are available to anyone with the drive and talent necessary. Regardless of background, each of our engineers is focused on one mission: ADVANCE innovation in communications technologies, INFORM spectrum and communications policy for the benefit of all stakeholders, and INVESTIGATE our Nation’s most pressing telecommunications challenges through research that employees are proud to deliver.

NTIA’s NBAM Reaches 30 State Milestone

February 24, 2021 by NTIA

Over the last few months, NTIA’s National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) added Alaska, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, New York, Oklahoma and Vermont to its growing roster of state participants. To date, the NBAM includes 30 states and four federal agencies: US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).

The NBAM is a geographic information system platform which allows for the visualization and analysis of federal, state, and commercially available data sets. This includes data from the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Census Bureau, Universal Service Administrative Company, USDA, Ookla, Measurement Lab, and the state governments. The mapping platform provides users, including administrators from the 30 participating states, with access to the NBAM and its data to better inform broadband projects and funding decisions in their states.

With more states joining, the NBAM is another step closer to creating a national platform that can help inform policymakers and expand Internet coverage across the United States.

For questions, please email: nbam@ntia.gov.

NTIA Leads International 5G Policy Training Event

February 17, 2021 by Jaisha Wray, Associate Administrator, Office of International Affairs

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the U.S. Telecommunications Training Institute (USTTI) held a virtual joint seminar on 5G from January 12-14, 2021. Hundreds of participants, representing fifty countries, tuned in throughout the training. Senior officials from across the United States government explained their respective roles in our nation’s 5G policymaking process. Several presenters noted the importance of secure and diverse supply chains to developed and developing countries. Additional speakers from industry, civil society, and foreign governments contributed their own policy insights and experiences.

The first day of the seminar focused on how the recently released U.S. National Strategy to Secure 5G and its Implementation Plan were developed. The next day included detailed overviews of spectrum issues and risk considerations when building a secure 5G network. Additionally, the Embassy of the Czech Republic highlighted the goals of the “Prague Proposals” on 5G security, which seek to clarify the risks of untrustworthy vendors and the benefits of adopting best practices to secure 5G networks. The Prague Proposals have been endorsed by a number of countries, including the United States, with efforts now directed toward the creation of a repository of best practices. 

NTIA Announces Tribal Consultations on New Program to Increase Broadband Access Across Indian Country

February 05, 2021 by NTIA

NTIA is committed to increasing broadband Internet access across America, particularly in unserved and underserved communities. The recently enacted Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 provides new sources of tribal broadband funding to assist in mitigating the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic which is exacerbating the digital divide across Indian Country.  With the designated funding, NTIA is in the process of developing the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) that will make grants available to eligible entities as quickly as possible.  In order to ensure the TBCP is as effective as possible, NTIA will be holding virtual Tribal Consultation sessions on February 5, 10, and 12, 2021.

NTIA is committed to holding Tribal Consultation sessions expeditiously to ensure that tribal input informs the new grant program prior to the application process.  Tribal leadership or their designees are invited to participate in the virtual Tribal Consultations to provide their advice and insights as NTIA staff work through the critical issues related to the program.

The $1 billion TBCP will provide funding for the following:

NTIA, FDA Pilot Program to Curb Access to Illegal Opioids Online Delivers Promising Results

January 19, 2021 by Jaisha Wray, Associate Administrator, Office of International Affairs

NTIA and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have successfully concluded a “trusted notifier” pilot program to curb access to illegal online opioid sales by working with domain name registries. A trusted notifier is generally recognized by a registry or registrar for providing credible and accurate information about illegal or abusive website content to domain name registries and/or registrars.

The new working relationships created through the program led to nearly 30 domain names associated with websites that were offering misbranded and/or unapproved opioids for sale to U.S. consumers being rendered inaccessible via the Domain Name System. The pilot also yielded valuable insights into potential mechanisms to help in the fight against the opioid crisis.

The Department of Commerce and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in June announced the voluntary, 120-day pilot program, conducted in cooperation with three U.S. domain name registries: Verisign, Registry Services, LLC (formerly Neustar Registry Services), and Public Interest Registry.

During the pilot, which concluded in October, the FDA referred domain names for potential technical action to the registries, which administer the .com, .net, .us, .biz, and .org top level domains.

NTIA Report on Spectrum Repurposing Finds Significant Progress

January 07, 2021 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

The Second Annual Report on the Status of Spectrum Repurposing, released this week, found that NTIA and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) have made significant spectrum available for commercial wireless services, including mid-band spectrum for 5G, during the past four years.

The 2020 repurposing report describes recent accomplishments and documents ongoing efforts to address reallocation of federal and non-federal spectrum bands in 23 band segments below 95 GHz. It also provides details for 14 low- and mid-range bands that have been repurposed or remain under consideration for repurposing.

According to the report, the U.S. has made a collective 1,130.5 megahertz of licensed mid-band spectrum ready for the U.S. industry to deploy for innovative 5G services, through a combination of reallocation, license modifications, new leasing authority, and greater regulatory flexibility. Additionally, 15,215 megahertz of unlicensed spectrum has been made available that will power the next generation of Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi 6, and other emerging unlicensed technologies. 

States Rise to the 2020 Broadband Challenge

December 29, 2020 by NTIA

Broadband Internet access has always been a vital part of the modern economy, but much of American life has been brought online since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many aspects of our jobs, health care, education, commerce, and social lives have had to take place over the Internet.

State governments around the country responded quickly to the resulting strain on networks. They ramped up their creative problem-solving and increased their coordination with other states and the federal government. At NTIA, we have been a partner in these broadband efforts through our State Broadband Leaders Network (SBLN), a forum for states, territories, and the District of Columbia to come together to share what works, and brainstorm new ideas to bring their citizens online.

States have employed varied strategies to help keep Americans connected. Here are some highlights:

MBI Helps HBCUs and TCUs Navigate Distance Learning Regulations

December 22, 2020 by NTIA

NTIA’s Minority Broadband Initiative (MBI), in partnership with the United States Distance Learning Association and the Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education, recently held a teleconference to brief Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) on new Department of Education distance learning regulations due to be implemented July 1, 2021.

Participants included 256 representatives of 63 HBCUs and 24 TCUs, including distance learning coordinators, chief academic officers, chief information officers and faculty. In addition, the presidents of several institutions attended the teleconference.

The Western Association of Schools and Colleges also described how the accreditation process is adapting to challenges facing schools during the pandemic. A representative from the Center for Higher Education Transformation stressed that these changes should be made consistently and that our regulatory system should help promote innovation in higher education rather than make it more difficult.

You can watch the teleconference in its entirety. For more information about the MBI, or to learn more about NTIA, follow us on Twitter @NTIAgov or visit our website at www.ntia.gov.

 

 

NTIA Pursues Innovative Spectrum Sharing Plan That Could Deliver Boost to 5G

December 15, 2020 by Charles Cooper, Associate Administrator, Office of Spectrum Management

Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC) graphic

Wireless broadband service providers want more spectrum – and quickly – to meet ever-growing consumer demand and deploy more advanced 5G networks. Federal agencies continue to answer that call by enabling commercial access to sizable amounts of repurposed spectrum. To accomplish federal missions critical to our country, however, government agencies also need secure access to spectrum. Easy solutions to this demand are as scarce as spectrum itself – but a promising innovation soon may help. 

What if federal spectrum could be shared in some instances where agencies use it only episodically or in limited areas? That is the idea behind an innovative dynamic spectrum-sharing concept that NTIA is pioneering in partnership with the Department of Defense (DOD). The project, called Incumbent Informing Capability (IIC), builds on advances that would give accelerated spectrum access to commercial 5G networks while still allowing federal agencies to accomplish their critical spectrum-dependent missions. 

More than Half of American Households Used the Internet for Health-Related Activities in 2019, NTIA Data Show

December 07, 2020 by Michelle Cao, Intern, and Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

Telemedicine and telehealth-related activities are on the rise, according to NTIA’s November 2019 Internet Use Survey, which found that more households are using the Internet to communicate with health professionals, access health records, and research health information.

Because the survey was conducted prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, it provides an important baseline for understanding the prevalence of telehealth usage among American households and the importance of Internet access for essential services.

The proportion of households that accessed health or health insurance records online grew from 30 percent in 2017 to 34 percent in 2019 (see Figure 1). Households communicating with a doctor or other health professional online grew by two percentage points, and households that researched health information online grew by one percentage point between 2017 and 2019.

Figure 1: Percent of Households Using the Internet for Health-Related Activities, 2017-2019

Our data reveal that telehealth and telemedicine users tend to have higher incomes, more education, and live in metropolitan areas. An Internet-using household in which the reference person lacked a high school diploma was half as likely as one with some college experience to research health information, such as with WebMD or similar services. The reference person is the first individual in each household who is identified as owning or renting the housing unit.

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