Obama Signs Broadband Construction Order, Launches US Ignite

WASHINGTON - The White House announced that, this morning, President Obama will sign an executive order to make broadband construction along federal roadways and properties up to 90 percent cheaper and more efficient. Currently, the procedures for approving broadband infrastructure projects on federally controlled or managed properties — which includes large tracts of land, roadways and more than 10,000 buildings — vary depending on which agency manages the property. The new executive order will ensure that agencies charged with managing federal properties and roads (the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Interior, Transportation and Veterans Affairs, as well as the US Postal Service) take specific steps to adopt a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets and speed the delivery of connectivity to communities, businesses, and schools.

In addition, the executive order will direct departments to help carriers time their broadband deployment activities to periods when streets are already under construction — an approach that can reduce network deployment costs along Federal roadways by up to 90 percent.

"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."

US Ignite Project Launches
The White House is also announcing that nearly 100 partners — including more than 25 cities as well as corporate and nonprofit entities — will join with more than 60 national research universities to form a new public-private partnership called US Ignite. The US Ignite Partnership will create a new wave of services that take advantage of state-of-the-art, programmable broadband networks running up to 100 times faster than today’s Internet.

By bringing software developers and engineers from government and industry together with representatives from communities, schools, hospitals and other institutions that will benefit from faster and more agile broadband options, the partnership aims to speed up and increase the development of applications for advanced manufacturing, medical monitoring, emergency preparedness and a host of other services.

Today, more of the nation’s broadband infrastructure is capable of moving huge amounts of information quickly and in novel, programmable ways, but software developers have been unable to create applications that take full advantage of this new capacity, in part because potential user communities such as factories and hospitals have lacked the means to coordinate their needs with developers' capabilities. The new US Ignite Partnership will create a national network of communities and campuses with ultra-fast, programmable broadband services that operate at speeds of up to 1 Gbps.

This network will become a test bed for designing and deploying next-generation applications to support areas of national priority, such as education, health care, energy and advanced manufacturing. US Ignite will challenge students, startups and industry leaders to create a new generation of applications and services that meet the needs of local communities while creating a broad range of job and investment opportunities. This initiative is expected to open up new opportunities for households and small businesses, helping them experience the economic and community benefits of next-gen applications while demonstrating a path for other communities to join.

Among the commitments being announced today by participants in the new partnership:

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

  • New tools for communities: Nonprofits, such as the Mott Foundation, are working with the partnership to deliver new community programs, such as hack days and startup weekends, to accelerate the transition of new 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 approximately $40 million that NSF has invested over four years in the Global Environment for Networking Innovations (GENI) project, which 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 test bed for next-generation applications in health care, energy efficiency, education and other national priority areas.

  • 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: The Departments of Commerce and Agriculture are announcing their support for US Ignite with more than six carriers that received funding for expanding their broadband networks while creating new community-based services.

  • Supporting military families and communities with new applications: The Department of Defense is connecting military families on base with new US Ignite services and creating new research opportunities for 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 health care applications, such as remote surgical theatre and patient monitoring.

  • Additional details on these public and private commitments, and on the participants in today’s activities, are detailed in this fact sheet.


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