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Obama Executive Order Targets Broadband Deployment and Spurs High Speed Access

"Dig Once" Initiative and US-IGNITE Announced by White House

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President Obama announced two major initiatives in June 2012 to facilitate broadband deployment and spur the development of super fast applications utilizing speeds of up to 1 gigabit (1000 Mbps).

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In a press release dubbed "We Can't Wait:President Obama Signs Executive Order to Make Broadband Construction Faster and Cheaper", the White House announcement claims broadband projects would be up to 90% cheaper under the Executive Order. While "dig once" policies are not new, the Executive Order is the most far-reaching when it comes to scope, and includes regulations that also effect federal agency coordination of broadband projects. The order affects all properties managed by the Federal Government, and includes tracts of land, roadways, and more than 10,000 buildings across the Country

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According to President Obama:

"Building a nationwide broadband network will strengthen our economy and put more Americans back to work," said President Obama. "By connecting every corner of our country to the digital age, we can help our businesses become more competitive, our students become more informed and our citizens become more engaged."

By developing a consistent process for broadband project sponsors to follow, many bureaucratic hurdles will be cleared, and there is no doubt that projects will take less time to complete. Specifically, the executive order will require the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation, Veterans Affairs and the US Postal Service to offer broadband providers carriers a single approach to leasing Federal assets for broadband deployment. The executive order also requires that Federal assets and lease requirements be listed on departmental websites. In addition, regional broadband deployment projects will be listed and tracked on the government's Federal Infrastructure Projects Dashboard (permits.performance.gov).

The "dig-once" provision of the Executive Order requires federal agencies to facilitate broadband deployment activities during periods where roads are already under construction.

On the same day the President signed the broadband deployment executive order, an initiative named US-Ignite was also announced. US-Ignite is a network of communities and universities exploiting very high speed broadband connections. The US-Ignite initiative is actually more than 100 public private partnerships between Federal agencies such as the Department of Commerce and Agriculture and universities, private industry and healthcare facilities.

According to the White House release announcing US-Ignite:

•Industry partners offer support to partnership: Global industry leaders including Cisco, Juniper, NEC, and Hewlett-Packard are offering programmatic and in-kind support to communities while carriers, like Verizon and Comcast, are announcing new pilot cities on their network that will participate in US Ignite.

•New tools for communities: Non-profits, like the Mott Foundation, are working with the partnership to deliver new community programs, such as hack days and startup weekends, to accelerate the transition these applications into the marketplace.

•National coalition of universities: The National Science Foundation (NSF) is committing $20 million to prototype and deploy new technologies to advance the development of ultra-high-speed, programmable broadband networks. That is in addition to the ~$40 million that NSF has invested over four years in the Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) project, which currently connects more than a dozen universities with next-generation broadband connections. Built with the technological contributions of more than 300 NSF-funded researchers at more than 60 universities, GENI is already serving as a virtual laboratory and testbed for next-generation applications in healthcare, energy efficiency, education, and other national priority areas.

More About US-Ignite

•Next-gen apps challenge to spur innovation: NSF and Mozilla Foundation, with support from the Department of Energy, are announcing a $500,000 design competition to develop applications for high-speed communities around the country.

•Building on current broadband investments: Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are announcing their support for US Ignite with over six carriers that received funding for expanding their broadband networks while creating new community-based services. •Supporting military families and communities with new applications: Department of Defense is connecting military families on base with new US Ignite services, while creating new research opportunities to students at West Point. HHS’s Beacon Community Program, starting with the Mayo Clinic, and the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Healthcare Pilot Program are partnering with US Ignite to provide new healthcare applications, such as remote surgical theatre and patient monitoring.

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