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Using Broadband Infrastructure to promote Jobs Creation, Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship Education through the buildi

Title: Using Broadband Infrastructure to promote Jobs Creation, Workforce Development and Entrepreneurship Education through the building of Social Entrepreneurship and Asset-Based Community Development modalities.

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The primary outcome expectations of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) include significant jobs creation, promotion of economic recovery and assistance to those most impacted by the recession. Technology will surely play a pivotal role towards attaining these goals and integral to retraining misplaced workers while sustaining the programs that are launched through the massive social investment of the ARRA.

Robust and feature rich broadband wireless networks launched in our communities, cities and counties would provide direct cost savings and increases in productivity for all of our local governments, first responders, colleges and schools, libraries, workforce investment boards, smart grid and all other public/private systems, agencies and non-profits throughout our regions, not to mention providing low cost ubiquitous high speed wireless internet access and communications for our residents and businesses.

New tele-medicine, tele-work, employer outreach, community outreach, digital inclusion for low-income households, distance learning, workforce development programs and smart grid applications are all borne of these cost-effective high speed fixed, nomadic and mobile wireless networks that will also attract corporate investment within our regions and communities and drive economic stimulus and growth.

So how do we make this happen?

Read my full article answering this at http://www.govtech.com/dc/articles/718085.

By definition, Asset-Based Community Development (A-BCD) is a methodology that seeks to uncover and highlight the strengths within communities as a means for sustainable development. The basic tenet is that a capacities-focused approach is more likely to empower the community and therefore mobilize citizens to create positive and meaningful change from within. Instead of focusing on a community's needs, deficiencies and problems, the A-BCD approach helps them become stronger and more self-reliant by discovering, mapping and mobilizing this model using all their local assets. Few people realize how many assets any community has.

Using this definition as the premise and incorporating into this model, the empowerment that our communities unknowingly maintain to create positive and meaningful change from within lies with technology. The layperson or average citizen does not realize that the assets needed to generate revenue that stays within their communities, and would support self-sustainability of these communities where we work and live, are literally right there under our noses.

The asset being referred to is wireless spectrum... particularly WiMAX wireless spectrum using the 2.5GHz Educational Broadband Service (EBS) band and the 3.65GHz band.

Designing and building out a WiMAX network is not rocket science but does require experience and expertise. This also introduces a community wide educational component starting with public awareness to promote the social capital needed to kick start this program. If our schools and colleges acted as the lead agent in this endeavor then we would be off to a good start.

It is these same colleges and schools that have the rights to what is now known as the 2.5GHz Educational Broadband Service band (formerly the ITFS band). Beginning in 2004 the FCC changed the rules on this band that allocated its use for broadband. This basically catapulted this spectrum real estate from swamp land to ocean front property. However, rather than educating these non-profits on the value of the asset they had maintained for decades the FCC allowed Clearwire and Sprint/Nextel to approach these non-profits, checkbooks in hand, and entice Boards of Trustees to lease their spectrum to these incumbents.

These non-profits include state universities and university systems, public community and technical colleges, private universities and colleges, public elementary and secondary school districts, private schools (including Catholic school systems in a number of large metropolitan areas), public television and radio stations, hospitals and hospital associations, and private, non-profit educational entities, all operating in the communities in which we work and live. On Election Day 2008 the outgoing FCC approved a deal that would combine all 2.5GHz EBS leases, and the spectrum, under one brand - CLEAR. As a result of this CLEAR now has the rights to 85+ percent of the 2.5GHz EBS band throughout the United States for the next 15-30 years.

What is being done to utilize this spectrum, specifically related to Asset-Based Community Development methodologies? Nothing -- With that being said let's move on to the next component in this model.

Cable incumbents, including Comcast and Time Warner, need a wireless strategy going forward to compete in the marketplace and keep costs down. In a few markets -- like Portland, OR -- Comcast has begun reselling CLEAR services.

As an incentive to Comcast and Time Warner our cities and communities should begin to build out WiMAX networks using the 3.65GHz band. This band provides for 50MHz of bandwidth that can be used for applications in the fixed and nomadic environment (e.g. households, businesses, smart grid, distance learning/training, delivery of e-newspapers, etc). The infrastructure needed to provide these services could be offered by Comcast or Time Warner or an established 3.65GHz local internet service provider (ISP).

In fact, our schools, community colleges and universities could become the lead agent for the 3.65GHz ISP, partner with cable companies in the offering of multiple service level agreements (SLA's) using both the 2.5GHz and 3.65GHz, with revenue share from the 3.65 side remaining within the communities and cities, in which we work and live, and supporting the large social investment of the ARRA, paid for by the American citizens.

The Plan & the Benefits

•CLEAR, EBS License Holders, Comcast, Time Warner, 3.65 WiMAX providers and our schools, colleges, and libraries need to agree upon concurrent build out of the 2.5GHz and 3.65GHz bands within their respective markets/regions. This will provide our residents, businesses, public systems and non-profits with a robust high speed ubiquitous mobile, fixed and nomadic internet access and communications (e.g. VoIP).

•Newspapers need to partner with these service providers in order to keep their doors open for business. Digital delivery of "e-newspapers" is right around the corner, replacing thetraditional printing press. This will put WiMAX enabled e-readers into the hands of their existing circulation.

•The cable company and newspaper subscribers/circulation also represent an immediate marketing arm and strategy for the offering of extended WiMAX services and applications.

•Approach State and Federal Department of Labor, Employment & Training Administration (ETA), Workforce Innovation or related agency and request funding for the planning (and possible build out) of the network (e.g. RF studies, engineering, tower/building locations to mount equipment, wholesale bandwidth, RFP/RFI to tier one operators/service providers, etc.). ETA is investing more than $260 million in 26 different regions across the United States in support of the WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) Initiative. Through WIRED, local leaders design and implement strategic approaches to regional economic development and job growth. WIRED focuses on catalyzing the creation of high skill, high wage opportunities for American workers through an integrated approach to economic and talent development.

•Private sector money needs to step up in conjunction with grants from Department of Commerce NTIA Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) and Department of Agriculture RUS Broadband Initiatives Program (BIP). These agencies are responsible for allocating $7.2 billion in broadband stimulus dollars.

An established 3.65GHz service provider will apply for an infrastructure and sustainable adoption grant. (revenue share provides for sustainability of ARRA, BTOP and BIP programs launched in the regions). The colleges/schools/libraries will apply for an increased computer/bandwidth grant. Private sector is required to provide 20% of the total infrastructure grant for BTOP however a minimum of 25% should be sought simply based on the potential ROI within any given region.

•The money from the increased computer center/bandwidth grants will be used to revamp existing or build new public computer/skills training centers (community colleges as lead agent) within the region that will offer specific training on the WiMAX network (e.g. qualified students/applicants can receive on-the-job-training and subsequent employment with either the 3.65 operator, CLEAR or the reseller).

These public computer/skills training centers can also offer training (both distance and on-site) and staffing services for a multitude of other industry sectors in need of labor exchange. Increased integration of community and technical college efforts with business and the public workforce system activities can be implemented to meet the skills training needs of high growth industries.

•All schools, colleges and libraries will be networked and provided the bandwidth needed to migrate to the needs of 21st century education and technology components. This will include virtual private networks, extended parent/teacher interaction and distance/home schooling.

•Power companies need to invest in WiMAX enabled devices that can provide for smart grid applications starting with time-of-day scheduling, demand control and load shedding of major loads in our homes and businesses, in conjunction with smart meters to provide remote meter reading.

•Local governments need to identify specific applications that can provide direct cost savings and increases in productivity for their departmental applications (e.g. permitting, remote water meter reading, parks and recreation, field reporting from hand held devices, etc.)

•Public Safety/First Responders can use the public network to monitor known trouble spots via cameras and DVR's that can be accessed from the station and/or their vehicles. Cameras and DVR's could also be accessed prior to a first responder arriving on the scene.

•Hospitals, Doctors and Veterinarians can provide tele-health services including remote diagnostics, remote monitoring of critical care patients, real time video conferencing and archived case studies/information.

With reference to workforce innovation many of the occupations projected to grow the fastest in the economy are concentrated in the health care industry. For example, from 2004-14, total employment of home health aides-including the self-employed-is projected to increase by 56 percent, medical assistants by 52 percent, physician assistants by 50 percent, and physical therapist assistants by 44 percent.

The industry is currently seeking to increase the available labor pool of health care employees. To attract new employees to the health care industry, industry employers are focusing recruitment from non-traditional labor pools. Increasing the diversity of workers and reducing turnover rates is also of concern.

•Our local employers can take full advantage of the network to identify direct cost savings and increases in productivity by allowing employees to incorporate tele-work or tele-commuting into their schedules.

•These networks will provide for comprehensive youth development services so that all youth, particularly those most disadvantaged, have the academic, technical, and work-readiness skills they need to successfully transition to adulthood, careers and post-secondary education and training

•Mentor/Protégé Programs - Graduate students, higher education students and experienced workforce can be paid to tutor qualified K-12 and Community College students in specific fields of interest. This is directly related to programs surrounding Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

What does all this mean? The Social Entrepreneurship Model

By definition, the main aim of a Social Entrepreneurship as well as social enterprise is to further social and environmental goals. Although social entrepreneurs are often non-profits, this need not be incompatible with making a profit. Social enterprises are for 'more-than-profit,' using blended value business models that combine a revenue-generating business with a social-value-generating structure or component.

This model identifies a means to organize, create, and manage a venture to make social change. This is specifically related to jobs creation as the primary outcome while providing sustainable adoption modalities for the ARRA and BTOP in regions throughout the United States. Even more specifically, this model identifies an important trend relative to the role licensed spectrum (2.5GHz, 3.65GHz) will play 1, 2 or 5 years from now in our day-to-day lives. This is not to say that incumbent license holders or lessees have not foreseen this but this model takes a proactive approach to incorporate the operating and business models that WiMAX can introduce through ubiquitous wireless accounts, services and applications as the availability/need for bandwidth increases. It is this proactive approach which can provide operators and service providers the ability to greatly improve their brands and ultimately increase their bottom lines.

This model will also incorporate many underlying programs that can be brought in to eliminate the disparity and co-join programs between labor and education as an integral part of the jobs creation and sustainable adoption modalities being sought through the ARRA and the broadband stimulus.

What about AT&T/Verizon LTE (700MHz Broadband)?

Based upon the above operating model, and the concurrent build out of WiMAX in multiple markets in all U.S. metropolitan service areas (MSAs) over the next two years, by the time LTE (and FiOS) starts to propagate and take hold all businesses and households will have a wireless (WiMAX) pipe. During the initial two year build out, CLEAR and independent operators could maintain an average rate per user (ARPU) of around $35-50 per month. When LTE presents, consumers and businesses will have become acclimated with the ubiquitous access that WiMAX has presented and will be used to the core infrastructure, applications and services that WiMAX offers.

When LTE starts to saturate, WiMAX core infrastructure will drop in price and remain as the low-cost core infrastructure for schools, colleges, local governments, libraries, public safety, energy (smart grid), workforce development and our public/private systems, agencies and non-profits while LTE introduces enhanced consumer based services, which we will want, demand and pay for. This will include three-screens digital media, hosted video platforms, video servers, CDN (content delivery network), publishing platforms, technology platforms for rich media, encoding/transcoding, DRM (Digital Rights Management) and content security, client software, streaming, players, asset management, streaming and delivery platforms, VOD (Video on Demand), hybrid set-top boxes, carrier and over-the-top enabled devices, broadcast and streaming, CE device streaming platforms, software platforms for three-screens services, just to mention a few.

It is also feasible that future WiMAX core infrastructure, services and applications will be billed as part of our water, sewer, and garbage pickup at rates below $10-$15 per month for a 6D/4U MB ubiquitous wireless connection.

As newer technologies are introduced - like LTE -- CLEAR (2.5GHz EBS) and established 3.65GHz WiMAX providers will already have a strong position in the market place, a wireless pipe to most households and businesses, a much stronger brand and the ability to use narrative and verbiage surrounding both Social Entrepreneurship and Asset-Based Community Development as part of their business marketing strategy and community involvement.

Therefore, what WiMAX will become is standards for a collection of technologies which can be deployed today that will directly benefit workforce development, education, the environment and socio-economic issues that plague our local communities and governments daily in today's economy. The introduction of WiMAX technologies will act as a catalyst and pioneer these types of programs and services that will ultimately benefit our communities and drive participation by the large incumbents as newer technologies are introduced in the marketplace.

As the FCC is charged with providing a national broadband plan to Congress and the Obama Administration by February, 2010 (6 months) I would invite our new FCC Chair, Julius Genachowski, to take a look at what is being introduced in this forward thinking model and provide incentives for the large incumbents and smaller operators to participate.

Submitted by Brad Bowman 4 years ago

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