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Spotlight on NTIA: Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

March 10, 2016 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Picture of Rafi GoldbergRafi Goldberg has been fascinated by technology since he was a child, when his father taught him how to program in BASIC on his family’s Apple II Plus.

Goldberg, who grew up on Long Island, kept up that interest as computers have advanced over the years. As an undergraduate at Tufts University near Boston, however, he pursued a different passion: public policy. Goldberg majored in political science and said he developed a strong connection with the Boston area, citing its strong sense of community and social activism. After working as an Issues Assistant on Deval Patrick’s 2005-2006 gubernatorial campaign and for the Governor's Office following Patrick’s victory, Goldberg moved to Washington in 2009 to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy from Georgetown University.

While at Georgetown, he realized that an ideal career would marry his interests in public policy and technology. He knew this combination must exist, but didn’t know where.

“And so I Googled it -- and found NTIA,” he says.

NTIA Launches Community Connectivity Initiative with Backing from Major Community Groups

March 09, 2016 by NTIA

Access to broadband means economic growth, new employment opportunities, and improvements in education, health care, and public safety. NTIA's recognition of this central fact of the 21st century is why we have engaged in a range of efforts to increase Internet access, adoption, and digital literacy, from the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funded by the Recovery Act to the creation of the first public, searchable nationwide map of broadband availability.

As a continuation of those efforts, NTIA's BroadbandUSA program is partnering with national organizations representing millions of Americans in more than a thousand localities across the country to develop the Community Connectivity Initiative (Initiative). The Initiative will empower communities across the country by giving them tools to support and accelerate local broadband planning efforts. NTIA, in close collaboration with its partners, will create a comprehensive online assessment tool to help community leaders identify critical broadband needs and connect them with expertise and resources. The tool will provide a framework of benchmarks and indicators on access, adoption, policy, and use for communities.

The Need for Fair Use Guidelines for Remixes

February 26, 2016 by NTIA

The U.S. copyright system strives to create a careful balance between rights and exceptions. Businesses, libraries, consumers, and especially the creative community rely on a range of exceptions and limitations, such as fair use, on a daily basis. Fair use, a fundamental element of the U.S. copyright system, is a legal doctrine that permits the unlicensed use of copyright-protected works under certain circumstances. Because it is technology-neutral, it can be applied in a flexible manner during times of dynamic technological change.

"Fair Use/Fair Dealing Week" presents an opportunity to explore various aspects of this vital part of U.S. copyright law. We would like to add to the conversation by highlighting some recommendations that the Commerce Department's Internet Policy Task Force (IPTF) recently made in the area of remix and fair use.

At Commerce, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and NTIA teamed up to release in January a major new report on copyright policy. The White Paper on Remixes, First Sale, and Statutory Damages (White Paper) considers, inter alia, the roles of fair use and licensing arrangements as they apply to remixes.

Fostering Investment and Innovation in Smart Cities and the Internet of Things (IoT)

February 25, 2016 by

This blog was cross posted on

Internet of Things (IOT) LogoThe Internet of Things (IoT) – which involves connecting physical objects to the Internet – has the potential to transform our lives and society. Cities around the world are harnessing the power of these new digital tools to build “Smart Cities.” Local governments are deploying low-cost sensors to improve access to public services and collect data to better understand the needs of the populations they serve. At the same time, manufacturers are using sensors to optimize equipment maintenance and protect the safety of workers, and consumers are upgrading their homes with smart appliances, such as connected thermostats and refrigerators that tweet.

The benefits of increased connectivity will be many: reduced congestion and fewer traffic accidents, remote patient monitoring and improved healthcare, and applications for emergency services, connected cars, and smart energy grids – to name just a few. Yet, we are hearing from innovators and the business community that a growing global patchwork of regulation threatens to increase costs and delay the launch of new products and services. That, in turn, could dampen investment.

Broadband Key to Smart Cities

February 23, 2016 by NTIA

This blog was cross posted on

Broadband Key to Smart CitiesWhile the Internet has transformed everything from how we search for a job to how we communicate with friends and family, cities are looking to utilize digital technology to address stubborn challenges such as reducing traffic congestion, fighting crime, promoting economic development, and making local governments more accessible and efficient. To support such efforts, the Obama Administration this fall launched a new “Smart Cities” initiative and called for investing $160 million in federal research to help communities address 21st century challenges and support such initiatives as smart transportation systems that could adjust traffic management in real time or support expanded use of smart grid technology to better monitor peak energy usage.

Why Sharing is the Answer to Rising Demand for Spectrum

February 12, 2016 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

Last week, I spoke at the 5th Annual Americas Spectrum Management Conference in Washington, D.C.  It was a valuable opportunity to talk about NTIA’s approach to spectrum policy and our efforts to meet the growing need for spectrum of both industry and federal agencies.

The wireless industry has fueled tremendous innovation and economic growth with its use of spectrum. To maintain the growth of wireless broadband services, industry requires more and more spectrum. At the same time, critical missions performed by federal agencies – from predicting deadly storms to exploring space -- are requiring systems of greater complexity. The result: There is more demand for this finite resource than ever before.

It is clear that we can’t meet the challenges that arise from this increased demand by using the traditional methods of spectrum reallocation, which often take too long and cost too much money. Innovation in spectrum use must be met with innovation in spectrum allocation. The answer is spectrum sharing, a flexible and evolving option that is helping to optimize this resource to the benefit of both the public and private sectors.

Sharing offers increased access to both federal and non-federal users. It’s also more flexible and efficient than the typical process of relocating federal operations. And it’s an improving science – researchers at the Center for Advanced Communications (CAC) in Boulder, Colo., are focused on cutting-edge spectrum sharing research and development, experimentation and testing.

Data Preview: What's New in the July 2015 CPS Computer and Internet Use Supplement

January 13, 2016 by Rafi Goldberg, Policy Analyst, Office of Policy Analysis and Development

In July 2015, NTIA commissioned the Census Bureau to conduct the latest Computer and Internet Use Supplement to the Current Population Survey (CPS). NTIA uses this survey to help understand why, where, and how Americans use the Internet, as well as what barriers stand in the way of effective Internet use.

We are awaiting the results of the latest survey, which has been significantly redesigned to fit the changing technological landscape.  NTIA has developed a more person-centric survey instrument, as opposed to household-centric questioning, that gathers data on the range of devices people use, the places they are used, and how they are used.

We increased the flexibility of the survey instrument by making it easier to add device, location, and online activity categories while preserving our ability to track changes over time. We’re taking advantage of the new structure by asking Americans about wearable devices for the first time, as well as whether they use the Internet to interact with household equipment, like a connected thermostat or security system.

We also reserved space in the survey to ask questions about policy issues. In 2015, we gathered data on privacy and security by asking how frequently households have been affected by data breaches, whether privacy or security concerns have hampered online activities, and what people are most worried about when it comes to online privacy and security risks.

Spotlight on NTIA: Jennifer Duane, Senior Advisor for Broadband and Public Safety, Office of the Assistant Secretary

January 06, 2016 by NTIA

This post is part of our “Spotlight on NTIA” blog series, which is highlighting the work that NTIA employees are doing to advance NTIA’s mission of promoting broadband adoption, finding spectrum to meet the growing demand for wireless technologies, and ensuring the Internet remains an engine for innovation and economic growth.

Picture of Jennifer DuaneJennifer Duane says the best thing about working at NTIA is that there is never a “typical day.”

She appreciates the fast pace, the breadth of issues and the depth of the challenges NTIA is addressing.

“It never seems like there’s a dull moment,” she says.

Duane came to NTIA in 2009 to help implement the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program (BTOP), which funded grants to expand broadband access and adoption. She moved to the Office of the Chief Counsel after a year and a half, continuing her work on BTOP legal issues. In 2012, she was named a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Assistant Secretary, where she added duties related to NTIA’s oversight of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet) and other public safety efforts.

Bringing Broadband to Silverton

January 05, 2016 by NTIA

The 67 students at Silverton School, nestled in the mountains of Colorado’s San Juan County, are returning from winter break to an abundance of new educational resources.

Group photo of students at Silverton School
The students of Silverton School
(click to enlarge)

Thanks to a grant from NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), Silverton School is now linked to a high-speed fiber-optic network that will deliver broadband speeds of 100 megabits per second to the small K-12 institution.

The new connection is an important milestone for EAGLE-NET Alliance, a Colorado intergovernmental entity that is leveraging federal funding to supply broadband to schools, libraries, government facilities and other anchor institutions across the state. And it is a big victory for local stakeholders, including Silverton Public Schools and San Juan County’s Board of County Commissioners.

Silverton – with a winter population of between 400 and 500 and a summer population that can reach 1,000 - is the last county seat in Colorado to connect to a fiber-optic system. With EAGLE-NET Alliance now bringing 20 gigabits of bandwidth into the community, Silverton hopes last-mile broadband providers will be able to hook up local businesses and homes in 2016.

Updating the Spectrum Relocation Fund to Enable Innovation, Flexibility in Spectrum Use

December 17, 2015 by Paige R. Atkins, Associate Administrator of the Office of Spectrum Management

Since its creation in 2004, the Spectrum Relocation Fund (SRF) has served as an important tool supporting federal agency efforts to make more spectrum available for commercial use. The fund reimburses agencies for some of the costs they incur for repurposing the spectrum they use in performing critical missions on behalf of the American people, opening the door to commercial access to the spectrum.

Modifying agency communications systems to use a different spectrum band or perhaps share spectrum with commercial providers can be exceedingly costly, and agencies typically do not have adequate budgets to cover all the costs associated with such efforts. Congress created the SRF to help defray the costs associated with spectrum relocation or sharing. It supports the efforts of federal agencies as they work to help meet the President’s goal of identifying 500 megahertz of additional federal and non-federal spectrum for wireless broadband services, both licensed and unlicensed, by 2020.