The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is producing jobs, driving growth, providing tools for economic empowerment and improving lives across the country. That was the takeaway from a recent panel discussion at the annual State of the Net conference held in Washington, D.C. last month. The conference, which is organized by the Advisory Committee to the Congressional Internet Caucus, explores the biggest technology policy issues of the day. This year’s conference included a panel devoted to BTOP, a Recovery Act program administered by NTIA that is investing in roughly 230 projects to increase broadband access and adoption around the country.
The BTOP infrastructure projects are bringing broadband to places where it’s lagging and supplying high-capacity connections to schools, hospitals and other anchor institutions that need more bandwidth. These projects are also spurring private-sector investment since local Internet providers can connect to these critical new "middle mile" facilities to serve more homes and businesses. The BTOP adoption programs are teaching computer and digital literacy skills, providing online job search and resume writing assistance, and even training people for technical jobs in the information-age economy. And the BTOP computer centers - located in schools, libraries and other public buildings - are providing broadband access for people who want to go online but lack the resources at home.
The State of the Net panel was moderated by Anthony Wilhelm, who directs the BTOP program for NTIA. But the real stars were the panelists themselves: leaders from five very different BTOP projects across the country who spoke about how Recovery Act investments are closing the digital divide and building the technology infrastructure and skills that America needs to compete in the 21st Century. Throughout the week, we will provide snapshots of each of these projects, along with highlights from each panelist’s remarks: