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US-Ignite Initiatives Announced at White House Broadband Event

Major Projects in 25 Cities Across the Country


President Obama recently issued an Executive Order requiring federal agencies to develop consistent processes to facilitate broadband deployment, and consider the timing of broadband projects to maximize opportunities to deploy broadband.

In addition to the broadband deployment Executive Order, The White House also announced a number of public private partnerships to develop innovative broadband applications which utilize very high speed networks. The initiative, called US-Ignite has already entered into partnerships in 25 cities around the country - including municipalities from small communities to large urban centers.

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The White House characterized US-Ignite as follows:

The US Ignite Partnership (us-ignite.org) is a new, independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit with a mission to catalyze 60 advanced, next-generation applications capable of operating on gigabit broadband networks over the next five years in six areas of national priority: education and workforce development, advanced manufacturing, health, transportation, public safety, and clean energy. The Partnership will connect industry leaders from small and large corporations, including start-ups, with local and state governments, universities, foundations, community institutions and broadband carriers to accelerate the development and testing of new applications that promise to have a significant impact on the US economy, providing a broad range of job and investment opportunities. Already, the Partnership has entered into agreements that will bring its efforts to 25 cities across the country, including small, medium and large municipalities. Additionally, a quickly growing number of commercial partners have agreed to be part of the US Ignite Partnership, including leading national telecommunications and networking corporations as well as regional and local organizations.

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Along with the announcements regarding the partnerships which were created as a result of US-Ignite, the announcement from The White House also reported the following: major actions:

National Science Foundation (NSF) Leverages Investments in Virtual Laboratory to Support US Ignite

As the lead Federal agency for US Ignite, NSF will expand its initial 4-year, ~$40 million investment in the Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) project, which currently connects more than a dozen universities with ultra-high-speed, programmable networks. Built with the technological contributions of more than 300 NSF-funded researchers at more than 60 universities, GENI is serving as a virtual laboratory and testbed for research on next-generation networks to host new applications in healthcare, energy efficiency, education, and other national priority areas. NSF is committed to spending another $20 million to transition from building GENI to using it for Internet-scale experiments. To help achieve that, a cohort of participating universities will, over the next year, share “lessons learned” with candidate university partners.

NSF Encourages Next-Generation Applications with Societal Impact

NSF posted a Dear Colleague Letter today to encourage its research and education communities to develop novel applications that take advantage of ultra-fast, programmable, next-generation Internet and which have the potential for significant societal impact. NSF also announced an award to the Mozilla Foundation to host an open innovation challenge. The contest, “Mozilla Ignite,” invites designers, developers, university researchers, entrepreneurs and other visionaries across America to brainstorm and build next-generation applications that address important societal challenges.

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Commerce Department Recovery Act Projects Leverage High-Speed Broadband Networks to Support Next-Generation Applications

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration— whose Recovery Act projects are already increasing broadband access and adoption in communities across the country—announced today that six of its project grantees are joining the US Ignite initiative.

US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service Announces New Support for Next-Generation Applications

The Rural Utilities Service, a rural development agency of the US Department of Agriculture, strongly supports efforts to ensure that rural communities and anchor institutions are connected to ultra-high-speed broadband networks and announced that that such projects may qualify for financing under the RUS telecommunications and broadband loan programs. RUS loan recipient Albion Telephone Company, which is currently using loan funds to build high-speed fiber networks in Malad, Arco, and Albion, Idaho, is today announcing its participation in US Ignite, and other loan recipients are encouraged to participate in the coming months. The agency is on target to complete over $3 billion in Recovery Act broadband investments. Earlier in the month, the RUS announced the release of more than $14.6 million in grant funding for more than 50 distance learning and Telemedicine (DLT) projects to provide enhanced learning and healthcare services for rural residents. Projects using ultra-high-speed broadband would also be eligible for consideration in future DLT grant competitions.

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Rural Healthcare Pilot Project Lends Telehealth Expertise to Missouri Eldercare Initiative

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With the aid of the FCC’s rural health care program, the Missouri Telehealth Network (MTN) uses a high-speed backbone network to link five major medical centers with more than 90 rural healthcare providers, which enables patients to access medical specialists via telemedicine while staying near their rural homes. MTN plans to lend its expertise to a partnership of US Ignite with researchers and network experts at the University of Missouri. Those researchers gather data from in-home, privacy-protected “sensor networks” in a senior living facility in order to provide remotely located nursing staff with early alerts of changes that might signify increased risk of falls and other medical problems. US Ignite is also partnering with other telehealth projects throughout the country that similarly depend upon high-capacity broadband networks to enable innovations that will enhance the quality and reduce the cost of healthcare.

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