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NTIA Employees Win Top Departmental Awards

September 30, 2015 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Please join me in recognizing the NTIA employees who at a special ceremony this week received Department of Commerce Gold and Silver awards for their outstanding contributions.

Here are the NTIA honorees:

Gold medal award winners:

Frank Sanders, Robert Achatz, John Carroll, Michael Cotton, Roger Drake, Geoffrey Sanders (Institute for Telecommunication Science (ITS)) and Robert Sole (Office of Spectrum Management (OSM)) -  This group is recognized for conducting and publishing a major electromagnetic compatibility study that advanced the Department’s efforts to make additional spectrum available for wireless commercial broadband services. The results were used to develop new rules enabling new spectrum sharing in the 3.5 GHz band between federal agencies that already use the band and commercial entities that intend to deploy new systems in the band.

Silver medal award winners:

Expanding the Benefits of Broadband in New England

September 29, 2015 by NTIA

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s BroadbandUSA team, together with Next Century Cities, a nonprofit initiative of over 100 mayors and community officials dedicated to ensuring the availability of next-generation broadband Internet for all Americans convened a productive broadband workshop yesterday in Portland, Maine to explore ways to close the digital divide and expand broadband capacity throughout the New England region. The Digital New England Summit brought together about 250 broadband experts, community leaders and state and federal officials, including U.S. Senator Angus King, for this day-long gathering.

The event was the third in a series of regional workshops that NTIA is hosting across the country as part of its BroadbandUSA program, which is helping communities expand their local broadband capacity and use. The new initiative builds on lessons learned and best practices from NTIA’s successful broadband grant programs, which officially come to a close tomorrow.  Funded from money from the 2009 Recovery Act, NTIA invested more than $4 billion in roughly 230 projects across the country that have built critical network infrastructure, opened or upgraded public computer centers and established broadband adoption and digital inclusion programs. Our State Broadband Initiative Program invested another $300 million to help states collect broadband data for the National Broadband Map and expand their statewide broadband capacity.

Guiding Communities to Broadband Funding Sources

September 28, 2015 by NTIA

As President Obama observed earlier this year, “high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.” So much of how we live our daily lives – from searching for a job to accessing health data – has moved online, which requires a high-speed broadband Internet connection. While there is broad consensus on the need to ensure Americans have access to broadband, figuring out how to fund it is still a major challenge for many communities.

In the last six years, NTIA has made great progress in expanding broadband access and adoption through our broadband grant programs, funded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. While these grants are now coming to an end, we recognize there is still more work to do, and earlier this year we launched BroadbandUSA to continue this momentum. Leaning on the expertise gained from managing our $4 billion grant programs, BroadbandUSA provides communities with technical and strategic advice on how to expand broadband access and adoption.

Reflections on the IANA Stewardship Transition Process

September 23, 2015 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

With the closing of the public comment period, we at NTIA continue to be impressed by the dedication and hard work of the many stakeholders involved in planning the transition of NTIA’s stewardship of the Internet’s domain name system. We are pleased to see so many stakeholders participate in the crafting of the plan to transition NTIA’s role related to the DNS technical functions, known as the IANA functions.  Everyone that benefits from the Internet has a stake in the success of the multistakeholder model and a voice in this process.

Today it is clear that there is a substantial amount of consensus support for the goals and principles established by the two working groups that have led the planning efforts since last year. It is equally apparent that there is consensus on many of the specific elements of the plans that were presented for comment to the global Internet multistakeholder community.

However, the comments also reveal that stakeholders have not reached consensus on all the specific tools that have been proposed to enhance the accountability of ICANN, the IANA functions operator, and that there are many questions still to be answered, both about the substance of the overall plan as well as its implementation, before the community will be ready to submit a final proposal to NTIA.

This week the Cross Community Working Group (CCWG) is meeting in Santa Monica, Calif., to continue work on how to enhance the accountability of ICANN in the absence of its contractual relationship with NTIA.

Strengthening Our Digital Infrastructure Is Key to America’s Path Forward

September 21, 2015 by

For our country to take full advantage of the promises of innovation, America’s path forward must ensure our people and ideas can move at the rapid pace of the 21st century. At a time when technological innovation and economic growth go hand-in-hand, our digital infrastructure is central to our competitiveness.

That is why the U.S. Department of Commerce, with agencies across the Administration, is working to foster continued investment in broadband networks. Over the past six years, we have made substantial progress in connecting communities and closing the digital divide through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) $4 billion broadband grant program. Projects funded through this program have built or upgraded 114,697 miles of network infrastructure, connected 25,684 schools, libraries and other anchor institutions, and produced 671,585 new household subscriptions. Still, we recognize that there is more work to be done to ensure that no one is left behind in the digital revolution.

Percentage of Households with Access to Download Speeds of 25 Megabits per Second or Greater, 2013
Percentage of Households with Access to Download Speeds of 25 Megabits per Second or Greater, 2013

Satellite Technology and Spectrum Key to Better Weather Forecasting

August 28, 2015 by

Ten years ago, one of the deadliest hurricanes in history struck the Gulf Coast, decimating coastal cities and communities from Gulfport, Miss., to New Orleans.  At the time, the National Weather Service (NWS), an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), accurately forecasted more than two days ahead of time that the central Gulf Coast would be directly impacted by Hurricane Katrina. While this forecast undoubtedly helped limit the loss of life and property, communities across the Gulf Coast still suffered billions of dollars in damage and hundreds died in the storm’s aftermath, according to NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center.

A comparison of the cone of uncertainty given 2005 forecasting capability and 2015 forecasting capability.
A comparison of the cone of uncertainty given 2005 forecasting capability and 2015 forecasting capability.

An Update on the IANA Transition

August 17, 2015 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

The Internet’s global multistakeholder community has made tremendous progress in its work to develop a proposal to transition the historic stewardship role NTIA has played related to Internet’s domain name system (DNS).

When we announced our intent in March 2014 to complete the privatization of the DNS, we noted that the base period of our contract with ICANN to perform technical functions related to the DNS, known as the IANA functions, expired on September 30, 2015. However, it has become increasingly apparent over the last few months that the community needs time to complete its work, have the plan reviewed by the U.S. Government and then implement it if it is approved.

Accordingly, in May we asked the groups developing the transition documents how long it would take to finish and implement their proposals.  After factoring in time for public comment, U.S. Government evaluation and implementation of the proposals, the community estimated it could take until at least September 2016 to complete this process. In response to their feedback, we informed Congress on Friday that we plan to extend our IANA contract with ICANN for one year to September 30, 2016. Beyond 2016, we have options to extend the contract for up to three additional years if needed.

Sustaining ITS Technical Expertise through the Senior Technical Fellow Program

August 17, 2015 by Keith Gremban, Director of the Institute for Telecommunication Sciences

The Institute for Telecommunication Sciences (ITS), NTIA’s research and engineering laboratory in Boulder, Colo., provides critical support to NTIA and other agencies by performing basic and applied research in radio science—which enables every wireless communications device, from smart phones, to military radars, to space satellites to operate.

As part of our efforts to expand the reach of this important work, I am pleased to announce the launch of a new Senior Technical Fellow program to enhance the Institute’s focus on scientific excellence and engineering innovation. It also provides a more formalized way to sustain and share ITS technical expertise with the Institute’s younger generation of engineers. The program recognizes the outstanding technical achievements of senior ITS researchers and allows them to devote more time to training and mentoring junior and mid-level scientists and engineers.

Frank Sanders, who has served as Chief of the Telecommunications Theory Division, has been named as the first senior technical fellow under the new ITS program. He is a renowned subject matter expert on radar system design, radar spectrum emissions, and radar receiver sensitivity to interference, and on the analysis and resolution of electromagnetic compatibility problems. 

Let Your Voice be Heard on IANA Transition

August 04, 2015 by Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling

Nearly 17 months ago, NTIA kicked off activities to complete the privatization of the Internet Domain Name System (DNS) as promised in 1998 by transitioning our stewardship role over  certain technical functions related to the DNS.

We have reached an important milestone in that process as the two working groups tasked with developing proposals related to the transition have released them for final comment.

These technical functions, known as the IANA functions, play an important but limited role in how the DNS and Internet operate. The DNS allows users to identify websites, mail servers, and other Internet destinations using easy-to-understand names (e.g., rather than the numeric network addresses (e.g., necessary to retrieve information on the Internet.

The IANA transition will advance our commitment to ensuring that the Internet remains an engine for global economic growth, innovation and free speech.

Since March 2014, the Internet community – made up of technical experts, businesses and civil society – has spent hundreds of hours devising a transition proposal that aims to meet the principles we outlined, including preserving the openness, security and resiliency of the Internet.

Spotlight on NTIA: Stacy Cheney, Senior Attorney-Advisor, Office of the Chief Counsel

August 04, 2015 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 Stacy CheneyStacy Cheney, a senior attorney advisor in the Office of Chief Counsel, started out his career in a private law firm but realized early on that public service and the issues that NTIA deals with in particular were his true calling.

Many here at NTIA might know Cheney as the attorney who sends you those emails asking you to comply with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. But he plays a much broader role at NTIA, including contributing to cutting-edge and impactful issues. While some of his job deals with general administrative law like Federal Register notices and FOIA requests, he has worked on many other exciting projects including NTIA’s work related to the Internet’s domain name system and digital copyright law for which he earned gold and bronze medal awards from the Commerce Department.