DELAWARE OFFERS STATEWIDE SPEED SURVEY AND SPEED TEST

Information gathered will be used to address broadband challenges 

DOVER, Del. — In an effort to improve broadband services across the entire state, the Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) is partnering with CTC Technology and Energy to conduct a statewide speed survey. Over the next 45 days residents can visit SpeedSurvey.Delaware.gov to test the speed of their computers, tablets and smart phones or to report a lack of service. Persons without access to internet service can also report that information by calling (302) 739-9701.

“Having reliable and affordable access to the internet is as essential now more than ever ‒ for education, work, healthcare, and the list goes on,” said Acting CIO Jason Clarke. “As we move forward to eliminate broadband deserts throughout the state, we need to be working with the most accurate data possible. The more people who participate in this speed test or report lack of internet availability, the more real-time information we have to make educated, strategic decisions that best serve Delaware.”

This information will be used to develop a statewide strategic plan to address rural and urban broadband challenges. For more information about the State of Delaware’s broadband efforts, please visit broadband.delaware.gov.

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Governor Carney Announces $20 Million for Broadband Infrastructure

CARES Act funds accelerate progress to connect more Delaware families to high-speed internet, support remote learning and establish statewide speed survey

WILMINGTON, Del. — Governor John Carney, Chief Information Officer (CIO) James Collins, and Delaware Secretary of Education Dr. Susan Bunting announced on Monday that $20 million in CARES Act funding will be used to build out additional infrastructure across Delaware, gather strategic data through a statewide speed survey, and acquire equipment and services for families in financial need.

Additionally, fifteen towers in the current phase of the Rural Wireless Broadband Initiative in Kent and Sussex counties will be completed about four months ahead of schedule. Originally slated to be completed by the end of 2020, the project received a boost of $566,000 through the Delaware Department of Education’s CARES Act funds to fast-track reaching more students in unserved and under-served areas in need of high-speed broadband for remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with the initial $2 million investment in State funding, the Rural Wireless Broadband Initiative is expected to serve more than 1,500 customers in rural areas and has capacity to expand.

“Over the last two years, Delaware has worked to eliminate internet deserts and make high-speed internet a reality for all Delawareans,” said Governor Carney. “Now more than ever, we know how essential reliable internet is for daily life. These funds will help us build additional broadband infrastructure, identify areas where we need to improve internet speeds, and eliminate barriers so that Delaware families can have quality internet— whether it’s for remote learning, working, or connecting with family.”

“We know that access to high-speed broadband is as essential as any public utility, and the COVID-19 pandemic made that need even more evident – the day of reckoning for broadband is here,” said CIO Collins. “We are very much encouraged by the significant progress that has been made but we have more to do. We will continue to pursue any and all avenues available to us to ensure digital equity across our entire state.”

The State will also use CARES Act funds to cover equipment installation and broadband service for students from low-income households across the state for remote or hybrid learning purposes. Additional information on this program will be announced in the coming weeks.

“For our students who are starting the school year learning remotely, having access to the internet is critical to their academic growth,” said Secretary Bunting. “We also have educators who are teaching from home right now and need reliable service. Connectivity is an immediate need with a solution that will serve them beyond the pandemic. We are grateful for DTI’s efforts in helping us support both students and educators.”

“These past few months, our staff was tasked with the great challenge of providing remote instruction, a concept that really transformed how we taught our students and more importantly how we could serve their needs.  This task seemed almost insurmountable as we learned how many of our students and staff lived in remote areas with little internet reliability or connectivity,” said Elyse Baerga, Supervisor of Student Services for Woodbridge School District. “The State’s commitment towards improving these conditions is critical to our students’ continued success.  As all school districts throughout the state plan and prepare for hybrid learning we will be relying on these resources to improve our ability to deliver instruction and services, to better serve our students. We are grateful to see how many families are already taking advantage of this amazing opportunity.”

“Being able to get wireless broadband service was heaven sent,” said Amie Errickson, a Clayton resident and new Bloosurf customer. “We did not have access to any broadband service before. In fact, we used to have to put all the kids in the car and drive to the school parking lot just to use the WIFI to get their homework done. Now they will be able to access the virtual learning they need.”

To learn more about Delaware’s broadband efforts, please visit www.broadband.delaware.gov.

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Governor Carney, DTI Announce Rural Broadband Expansion Partnership

Partnership with Bloosurf aims to eliminate broadband deserts in Kent and Sussex Counties

DOVER, Del. — The Delaware Department of Technology and Information (DTI) Chief Information Officer James Collins, joined by Bloosurf, LLC Founder and CEO Vincent Sabathier and his team, announced a partnership to provide affordable wireless broadband in targeted, rural areas of Kent and Sussex Counties.

Last July, Governor John Carney and DTI issued a Request for Proposals to provide wireless broadband internet service to unserved and underserved residents and businesses in rural areas, and set a goal to eliminate broadband deserts in those regions within 24 months. DTI estimates target areas include approximately 127,700 homes and businesses in the rural parts of Sussex and Kent Counties. DTI will provide funding for startup costs of approximately $2 million to design, build, operate and commercialize a wireless network. DTI has placed prioritization on low-cost services for low-income families to enable them to take full advantage of the internet.

“Delawareans use the internet every day to search for jobs, acquire new skills, help their children do their homework, and run their businesses,” said Governor Carney. “High-speed broadband connectivity is essential for all Delaware families to succeed in today’s economy. This initiative will connect Delawareans in rural areas that have long been underserved by high-speed internet service – or not served at all. We are pleased to be moving forward with this partnership, and look forward to additional progress.”

“Technology is a part of nearly everything we do, making access to broadband as necessary as other public utilities in order for our state to thrive,” said CIO James Collins. “Without it, kids can’t do their homework and businesses are unable to operate effectively in the information age. The Carney Administration has made it a priority to bridge both the accessibility and affordability gaps of high-speed broadband to ensure that all Delawareans benefit from the unprecedented access to information and collaboration technology affords.”

“Bloosurf is honored to join forces with the State of Delaware and DTI in the important fight against the digital divide,” said Bloosurf CEO Vincent Sabathier. “Bloosurf will leverage DTI funding, DivComm towers, its know-how, its assets and its strategic partnerships to design, deploy and operate a LTE- advanced network. This network will significantly enhance coverage and speed in rural areas. We will also work closely with the State to make this new service affordable to low-income families.”

The first phase of Delaware’s broadband efforts focused on increasing fiber infrastructure. The state’s initial financial contribution of about $1.5 million resulted in over $30 million in private investment and 700 miles of fiber. Delaware’s broadband “backbone” features high capacity fiber-optic lines that run the length of the state from Wilmington to Georgetown, and from Seaford to Lewes, improving internet reliability for consumers and increasing internet access speeds by as much as 10 times since 2009. This current phase of the project is focused on fixed wireless solutions provided by public–private partnership opportunities to capitalize on the strengths of the both sectors to address gaps in broadband availability throughout Delaware.

For more information about Delaware’s broadband expansion efforts, please visit dti.delaware.gov.

 

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Delaware Recognized for 100% School Connectivity

Report notes Delaware exceeds broadband speeds for students in schools across the state

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware is a national leader in classroom broadband speeds and connectivity, according to a 2018 State of the States report Expanding Digital Learning in Every Classroom, Every Day released this week by Education Superhighway. The State of Delaware is recognized for 100 percent school connectivity. The report also highlights that the First State exceeds the 100 kbps per student goal. Over the past three years, connectivity speeds in Delaware schools have increased nearly eight times from 82 to 638 kbps.

“My most important job as Governor is to make sure that Delaware has a strong, growing, and competitive economy. In order to achieve that, we must do everything we can to prepare our students for success,” said Governor John Carney. “That includes helping provide students and educators with reliable access to high-speed broadband service. The availability of high-speed broadband to leverage digital learning is an absolute must and the need for reliable access will only grow.”

“We are really excited that all our schools are connected and we have been able to increase speeds,” said James Collins, Chief Information Officer at the Delaware Department of Technology and Information. “This is part of an ongoing process to improve access to broadband across the State. At the end of the day these students go home and they still need to do their homework and remain connected. We’re working to leverage the investments we have made in our fiber broadband infrastructure. Our hope is to eliminate broadband deserts across our state entirely over the next 24 months through wireless connectivity.”

“Every child should graduate from Delaware’s public schools prepared to succeed in college or in a career,” said Susan Bunting, Secretary of the Delaware Department of Education. “High-speed internet access to information and digital content are not only essential to learning but are also critical to preparing students for work in the future. I’m proud our state has worked to improve access for children and educators across the state.”

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Related news:
Expanding Access to High-Speed Broadband


Expanding Access to High-Speed Broadband

[AUGUST UPDATE: Click here to view request for proposal]

Applying for a job, or recruiting talented employees for your business. Taking a college course. Reading a book. Helping your kids with math homework.

More and more, these are tasks that Delawareans are completing online —to further their education, acquire new skills, and compete in an economy that is evolving every day. My most important job as Governor is to make sure that Delaware has a strong, growing, and competitive economy. That’s why, among other steps we’re taking, it’s so important for us to expand access to high-speed broadband service across our state - especially in areas where service is spotty or unavailable today.

Over the next two years, working with partners in the private sector, we plan to eliminate broadband deserts and ensure that every Delaware citizen and business has access to high-speed broadband service.

Delaware has consistently been recognized for having among the fastest internet speeds in the country. Ensuring reliable access to the internet for even more Delawareans will help prepare our young people for the economy of the future, and it will help our existing workforce do their jobs even better.

“As vice chair of the House Committee on Telecommunication Internet and Technology, I believe that every Delawarean should have equal access to high quality broadband,” said Representative Trey Paradee, a Dover Democrat. “I’m proud of the efforts made in Delaware to expand broadband access throughout the state.”

“Connectivity is the key. Many areas of our county have been under served by the major Internet players for many years,” said Senator Brian Pettyjohn, a Georgetown Republican. “Bringing broadband access will help families, students, businesses, and our agricultural community compete in the modern world.”

Governor Carney with Josh Wharton from DEC
Josh Wharton and Governor Carney

On Tuesday, during a tour of Delaware Electric Cooperative in Greenwood, we saw how important broadband access is to the delivery of electricity to customers across Kent and Sussex counties.

Josh Wharton, a Delaware Electric Cooperative operations supervisor, shared one of his favorite stories. One night at 11:00 p.m., Josh received a call from another power company that had a fire on a power line. The company asked Josh to redirect power to 5,000 customers before their service was impacted. From his home in Gumboro, Josh used an iPad to guarantee those customers didn’t lose power. How was that possible? A high-speed, remote internet connection.

Businesses need to reach their customers, and set up shop in locations that enable them to communicate efficiently. High-speed broadband is critical for companies of all sizes, and it’s why we’re working to ensure businesses have access to quality internet service statewide.

We also heard from R.C. Willin and Brent Willin of Willin Farms on how their fifth-generation family farm uses internet connectivity to make adjustments to planting, monitor equipment, and manage business operations.

We want all of Delaware’s farms to have access to this type of technology. Expanding access to high-speed broadband is essential for Delaware’s agriculture sector to remain competitive.

 

 

Here’s how we plan to expand high-speed broadband access in Delaware:

In August, we will release a request for proposals (RFP) to develop partnerships that will improve broadband availability in rural areas throughout Delaware by creating opportunity for the private sector to develop and offer that service. [AUGUST UPDATE: Click here to view RFP.]
Through this RFP and subsequent partnerships, the State will focus on enabling service to homes and businesses where broadband service is not readily available, particularly in rural Kent and Sussex Counties.

Delaware will also prioritize low-cost services for lower income families to enable them to take full advantage of the internet, meeting needs that range from applying for jobs to completing homework assignments.

We will make funds available through a rural broadband grant program to reduce barriers to market entry for private sector providers, and to further attract private investment.

This is about increasing opportunity for all Delawareans - and making sure that no one in our state is left behind because they don’t have adequate access to technology.

We are building on earlier work across our state that has achieved results. Delaware has worked diligently to expand broadband access across the state for several years. Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins has worked with school district leaders to upgrade digital infrastructure and dramatically increase internet speeds in 48 schools statewide - many in areas that are under-served.

As part of the Delaware Department of Technology and Information’s Delaware Broadband Fund Phase Two initiative to promote fixed wireless broadband solutions and reach under-served populations in rural areas, Bloosurf launched a pilot project in the City of Seaford which offered free service to customers within 8 miles of the wireless access points.

That helped Delawareans like Kim Hopkins, a Seaford teacher, who previously had trouble grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and helping her children with their homework because of slow, spotty internet connection.

 

 

We have invested in increasing our fiber infrastructure, with the State’s initial financial contribution, resulting in over $30 million in private investment and 700 miles of fiber.

Delaware’s existing broadband “backbone” features high capacity fiber-optic lines that run the length of the state from Wilmington to Georgetown, and from Seaford to Lewes, improving internet reliability for consumers and increasing internet access speeds by as much as 10 times since 2009.

“We live in an amazing time where technology provides us unprecedented access to information and the ability to collaborate - high-speed broadband is key to that connectivity. Without broadband, we wouldn’t be talking about emerging technologies like the ‘Internet of Things’ or the many cloud-based services available because they wouldn’t exist. It is imperative we continue the work to bridge the digital divide because access to technology levels the playing field. In today’s connected world, broadband access is necessary for the success of our students, communities and businesses. Our hope is that high-speed broadband will become as accessible as electricity for all Delawareans.” - Delaware Chief Information Officer James Collins

Thanks in large part to these efforts, Delaware continuously ranks at, or near, the top of broadband speed rankings across the nation. Yet, we still face the same challenges as many other states when it comes to access and affordability, especially in our rural areas where broadband deserts still exist.

Over the next two years, we will directly confront this issue, eliminate those deserts, and make high-speed internet a reality for all Delawareans. That will help all Delawareans connect and compete in a new economy, and help move our entire state forward.