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5g Digital Divide Download E-Learning Infrastructure Latency Speed Upload Wireless

Digital Divide

Internet Access & E-Learning

ln this ~8 minute video Mashable’s Rachel Kraus walks through the many ways the digital divide has intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic and why thinking about the internet as a freeway could inform how we close it.

The video includes wonderful graphs and images to support the visualization of the technology topics including:

  • Digital divide and the demographic data
  • Kids doing homework in a parking lots
  • Infrastructure
  • Internet Access
  • Government service delivery
  • Download, upload, latency speeds
  • Equipment, home layout
The ‘Digital Divide’ and COVID-19’s Impact on Internet Access | Mashable

Also See

Categories
Broadband access Dogwood Trust Economic Development Education Employment

Critical Broadband Access

Learn from Lessons

It takes partnerships and collaboration to maintain and improve the health, education, and economic development of our Western North Carolina communities.

We illuminated just how critical broadband access is for learning, working or even supplying a family in quarantine. 

Susan Mims, Interim CEO at the Dogwood Health Trust, April 30, 2021 Newsletter

What is the pathway to future Western North Carolina growth?

High speed internet or broadband and fiber optics will have a critical role!

Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education FCC William Sederburg

Broadband Future in WNC

by Dr. William Sederburg

Western North Carolina Broadband Project Chair Dr. William Sederburg talks about broadband and the situation of broadband maps from the FCC and the actual situation of broadband service as detailed in his letter to the FCC.

WNC Broadband Future – Dr. Sederburg

YouTube Video Outline

00:00 – Organized through University of North Carolina Asheville
01:36 – Former FCC Officials Stagg Newman & Greg Voyt in WNC
02:21 – FCC Presentation
03:00 – WNC Broadband Project’s start
04:42 – ‘Future Proof’ Broadband
06:11 – ‘Lack of broadband infrastructure is NOT just a rural problem’
07:19 – Buncombe County Map – No Services offered in red, white areas do not have adequate broadband
08:21 – Conclusion, Federal policy changes, WNC short-changed services, WNCBP offer to help FCC with maps (see the letter below)

Because broadband is a critical need for economic growth, education, tele-health, and more; the WNC Broadband Project is here to advocate for broadband improvements for our communities.

Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Community Development Digital Divide Digital Inclusion Economic Development Education Gigabit NTCA Real Estate Shirley Bloomfield

WFH

Working From Home

How will the COVID-19 epidemic change the relationship from working in an office to working from home (WFH)?

How will WFH alter Asheville?

If 1/3 of Americans work from home, it changes transportation planning in a huge way.

Road Guy Rob

Transportation

In Buncombe County, we know the bottlenecks and high capacity of traffic on I-240, I-40, and I-26 as major interstates connect and bring-in or out employees. If work from home become permanent, the commuting demand shifts from vehicular traffic to broadband traffic.

Office Space

Yes, essential worker in hospitality, grocery stores, and other service industries in WNC will see needed transportation continue; but should an organization spend an enormous amount of money at their headquarter office to seat employees that cost $2.00 or more a square foot per month?

Land Use

How does the shift of working in an office to WFH effect home costs? Anyplace that has healthy broadband could become the new employment location. You don’t have to commute to work and there will be a ‘flight’ to smaller communities. Available land in the outskirts of WNC will become attractive home and workplaces.

Prerequisite

In the future there will be unprecedented availability of gigabit broadband which is available through fiber networks.

Urban cities can have 130 subscribers per mile. Rural communities can have 6-7 subscribers per mile. Fiber doesn’t get any cheaper based on where you are putting it in the ground. Yet in rural America it is even more important to bridge the digital divides.

Shirley Bloomfield, NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association CEO (Human Resource office in Biltmore Park)

The Big Picture

America and WNC is returning to a decentralized economy. The world economy is replacing the suburb commutes with the internet at the speed of light. Communtable work distances in WNC is limitless. Additionally, our carbon footprint will be reduced. Political and socioeconomic landscapes will change. What will be the role of mass transportation in WNC?

Categories
Computer Basics Digital Divide Digital Literacy GCF Global

Computer Skills for the Digital Divide

Resources for Job Seekers

With computers and software always being updated, use this resource skills-sheet to keep your computer skills current.

Categories
Basics Education GCF Global Internet

Internet Basics

Effectively leveraging broadband can provide economic, health, and education benefits. At the core of broadband is high speed internet that delivers website, video, and other content.

But what if you or you know of somebody that knows little to nothing about the internet and how it provides connectivity in our world?

  • Searching for community help?
  • Securely reading email, online finance, social media?
  • Effectively using your web browser?
  • Looking for employment opportunities?
  • Understanding the cloud?

Where does the Internet Come From?

The Internet – An Enormous System of Cables Connecting Computers in the World

Simply put, the internet is a network of computers that allow you to go online.

The World Wide Web is a collection of websites that can be accessed through the internet. Interaction with a website requires the use of a web browser or app installed on your computer device.

With a web browser like Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, Mozilla Firefox, or others; a user is able to communicate with email and social media, shop, get information, and more.

WNC Broadband Project

The Western North Carolina broadband leadership team constantly provides advocacy for improving broadband in our beautiful part of the state of North Carolina.

Follow Us On Social Media

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/WNCBroadband/

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/wncbroadband

Twitter – https://twitter.com/WNCBroadband


More Resources

Internet Basics: What is the Internet? (2019). GCFGlobal.org. https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/internetbasics/what-is-the-internet/1/

Categories
A-B Tech Broadband as a Utility Education

Broadband’s New Normal

As Vice-President for Information Technology & Chief Information Officer at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, one of the largest and most impactful educational institutions in western North Carolina, I have had a front-row seat during the COVID-19 crisis and have perhaps a unique perspective on the challenges encountered and lessons learned during the College’s (and community’s) adaptations to this changing environment.

By virtue of a decade of reinvigorated attention to the value of technology within modern higher-education, A-B Tech entered the crisis is a stronger position than many of sister colleges within the North Carolina Community College System, and a stronger position than many other corporate entities and governmental agencies in the region. When NC’s community colleges were instructed in March of 2020 to switch operations to 100% online, A-B Tech was well situated to make this transition and already had much of the infrastructure in place to facilitate that transition. That’s not to say that considerable investments of money, time and labor weren’t needed on a very compressed timeline or that everything had been figured out ahead of time but A-B Tech was fortunate in being able to rapidly make adjustments and deploy resources to quickly resume operations in a radically altered format. As we assess the hurdles already overcome and the difficulties which remain, one of the most universal and foundational challenges is connectivity.

As an institution, A-B Tech can implement solid systems and processes to provide for efficient and effective remote instruction and support, we can deliver software and hardware to enable home-based employees and students alike, we can offer training to facilitate the use of such technology – but we are very restricted in our ability to provide employees or students with the fast and reliable Internet access which necessarily underpins all such remote-working arrangements. We have implemented web-based and cloud-hosted solutions, have deployed laptops, webcams, headsets and mobile WiFi hotspots, have instituted new policies and procedures to adapt operations to fix demands, have established COVID-conscious computer labs and have invited the community to use our parking lots for connectivity from inside one’s car, etc. Only in limited situations, however, have we been able to solve a connectivity challenge with cellular access points or other workaround approaches. Cutting across socioeconomic lines, crossing the urban/rural boundaries, impacting people without regard for educational attainment or financial situation, the very real challenge of high-speed Internet access throughout western North Carolina impacts students, faculty, staff and senior administration at A-B Tech, as it similarly impacts our local businesses and our regional K-12 schools. Broadband Internet access has quickly proven to be a core requirement of “the new normal,” as fundamental to modern life as electricity and running water.

Brian Willis, VP of IT/CIO Information Technology, A-B Tech Community College
Categories
Broadband access Broadband in WNC Digital Inclusion Education Jackson County Western Carolina University

Broadband & Higher Ed

Impact of COVID on Broadband for a Higher Education Institution

In the delivery of remote or hybrid instruction, as we’ve experienced over the past year, there are two key locations that need to be connected: the professor and the student. The connection is provided via broadband. With high speed connections and reliability, learning is enabled. It is absolutely critical for success.

For a university with faculty and students located in more rural areas of North Carolina and in areas underserved with respect to broadband, this can be a significant problem; and in a lot of cases there may only be one internet service provider, if even available. In fact, from a technology perspective, this was probably the number one item expressed by both faculty and students. We experienced some faculty needing to come to campus only because they had poor internet connectivity, reliability, or bandwidth at home. A significant number of students experienced the same situation and we heard instances of students driving to a nearby McDonalds to use their wireless from the parking lot to access learning management systems or Zoom sessions. Locally, some students came to campus to use the university’s outdoor WiFi. Here in the mountains, cellular is not usually an effective solution due to the terrain, and in fact for many, cellular connectivity is actually being delivered over their broadband connection; so without broadband there is no cellular coverage. Without quality broadband professors can’t teach and students are not able to learn and engage.

In addition to the faculty and students, the university runs via its staff employees. Areas include facilities, finance, purchasing, information technology, campus services, fundraising, admissions, tutoring, academic services, research, and more. These services and functions need to remain operational. Staff need to be able to access systems, payroll, remotely answer phones, meet in teams, and provide services. Working remotely, as most staff was being asked to do, requires quality broadband. Without it a person cannot do their work, provide necessary functions, or assist faculty, students, or other staff.

Just before the pandemic hit, WCU Power and Morris Broadband were very close to completing the implementation of high speed broadband service to the WCU Power service area. The service area encompasses a significant number of faculty, staff, and students that live near the university. Many have said they are so thankful that the new broadband service was in place — because it is what enabled them to successfully teach, work, and study remotely. Without it, they would have either not be able to work or would only have been able to do so being present on campus — significantly impacting university operations.


Craig Fowler, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Western Carolina University
Categories
Advocacy Broadband access Broadband funding Broadband in WNC Broadband Technology Dan Gerlach Education Federal Efforts Greg Vogt Jeff McDaris Jeff Sural Local Government Local Government North Carolina Paul de Sa Stagg Newman Walter Johnson

WNC Broadband Leadership Summit

March 2, 2021

Meet the Experts, Get Broadband Industry Updates, and Closing The Digital Divide in 2021


You’ve been asking questions- we’re paying attention. 2021 will bring a host of changes to policy, funding, technology, and more.

Join us on March 2nd for our annual broadband leadership summit as we hear from local, state, and national leaders on what those changes will bring.

We will be hearing from:

Paul de Sa- “Perspectives on the new FCC directions and Internet Policy and Funding in the Biden Administration”

Paul was part of the leadership team at the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from 2009-12 and 2016-17, serving as Chief of its Office of Strategic Planning, with a focus on merger reviews, spectrum policy, and broadband, including work on the National Broadband Plan. He is now a senior partner with Quadra Partners consulting and a member of President Biden’s Broadband Transition Team.

Walter Johnston- “Broadband Technology in 2021”

Walter was Chief of the Electromagnetic Compatibility Division of the FCC from 2009 to Jan. 2019. He is now a senior partner with Danu consulting. He is a leading expert in new broadband technologies.

Dan Gerlach- “Foundations and funding questions”

Dan has served the public for 25 years as a budget advisor to Gov. Easley, President of the Golden Leaf Foundation, and interim Chancellor of East Carolina University. He currently is president of Dan Garlach LLC and a consultant to the Dogwood Health Trust.

Jeff Sural- “What to expect at the state level”

Jeff earned his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill and his J.D. from Western Michigan University. Since January 2015 he has been the Director of the Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO). BIO leads the statewide initiative to expand high-speed internet access for all North Carolinians.

There will also be information from several providers in the region including Charter, Skyrunner, ERC, and French Broad Electric Co-op.

And more……

This event will be held from 10-noon with optional breakout sessions from noon-1pm.

Breakout Sessions

  • Education – led by Jeff McDaris – will hear what K-12 and colleges have done to meet the pandemic and respond to the digital divide. Barry Pace of Buncombe Schools will provide an update on their experience.
  • New Technologies – led by Stagg Newman and Walter Johnston will continue the conversation about 5G expansion, satellite services, and the future.
  • State & Local Funding for Broadband – led by Jeff Sural and foundation partners – will look at the potential for state and local funding for broadband.
  • Federal Policy Changes – Greg Vogt and Paul de Sa will continue the conversation about what the Biden administration and Democratic control of Congress means for broadband improvements and regulations.

Register for this virtual event today! Spaces are limited.

Date: March 2nd
Presentations: 10-12
Breakout sessions: 12-1
Cost: Free

Zoom Registration Link

For questions related to this event reach out to


Does your organization have a digital inclusion activity it offers?

We want to know!

2020 escalated the conversation around digital inclusion and we want to make sure we know what’s going on across WNC. Please let us know who you are and what your organization is doing by completing this brief survey. We will present an update to this project at the March 2nd Summit. 

Digital Inclusion Survey Link

Categories
Buncombe Buncombe County Schools Education Hotspot

Broadband for Buncombe County Schools

Response to COVID-19, Tech Impact

When the Governor made the decision to close schools late on Friday, March 13, 2020 BCS made arrangements for all of our K-5 students to pick up their 1:1 device March 16-17 (BCS was already 1:1 K-12 with all 6th – 12th graders taking devices home) and began virtual “remote learning” on Wednesday, March 18, 2021 after providing guidance and training for staff.

Over 300 teachers who did not already use a Learning Management System (LMS) were trained on Friday, March 13, 2020 before the governor’s announcement in anticipation of the changes.

We had a homework hotspot (cellular data) program with around 800 students assigned mobile hotspots (600 of which were assigned to high school students) with limited LTE data plans.

Today we have 2800 homework hotspots with the majority now having unlimited high speed data plans. We quickly learned that limited data plans did not support multiple Zoom or Google Meet sessions per day. We also learned that several areas in the county did not have adequate cellular coverage to support homework hotspots. Key areas are Broad River, Sandy Mush and certain areas of Fairview, but there are smaller pockets without cellular coverage throughout the county (e.g. areas in the Leicester area and even within the Asheville city limits).

We identified between 50 and 100 families that had essentially no access to wired or wireless high speed broadband. BCS partnered with Skyrunner and Charter to connect approximately 15 families, but unfortunately the majority of these 50-100 families did not have line of sight to a Skyrunner tower or did not live close enough to a Charter fiber line to get service. Some of these families leverage Wi-Fi at places like our Public Libraries, Broad River Fire Department or Sandy Mush Community Center, as well some travel to family and friends for Wi-Fi.

We did work with the Buncombe County Local Government to gain permission for Skyrunner to place equipment on the Broad River tower. Buncombe County Local Government in partnership with the ACS & BCS Foundation and the Housing Authority are partnering with Skyrunner to provide free Wi-Fi to each HA residence.

One key takeaway was that current satellite Internet options are less than ideal in terms of speed and latency to support virtual instruction.

We also increased staffing for our Technology Help Desk to accommodate a significant increase in support requests and provide support in English and Spanish. We provided custom training to all instructional staff including Best Practices for Remote Learning and specific Learning Management System courses for Seesaw (K-2), Google Classroom and Canvas.

Digital Learning in partnership with Curriculum, Student Services and Special Services created a Remote Learning Guide for teachers. This guide was based on data from the Friday Institute and adapted for our school system. It is continually updated as we learn more about remote learning. Digital Learning created a Virtual Days website for parents, students, teachers and staff to support remote learning. Our BCS Virtual Academy was expanded to accommodate new applicants. Digital Learning created online tutorials and professional development (BCS Digital Learning YouTube Channel) and Language Services translated tutorials into Spanish and Russian. Teachers were required to complete remote learning and LMS training at the beginning of this school year. Weekly optional live virtual trainings are available and recordings are posted on our YouTube channel. Continuing education credits are given for the trainings.

We have learned a great deal due to this unprecedented pandemic. One thing is for sure, our staff and students are resilient and they have, for the most part, adapted to online learning during this challenging time while also becoming more technologically savvy.

Barry Pace, Director of Technology, Buncombe County Schools