UPDATE In November, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) launched a Minority Broadband Initiative (MBI) focused on solving deployment challenges in vulnerable communities. The initial focus is on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) so they can advance broadband connectivity on their campuses and in the surrounding communities.
NTIA’s initiative is working with connected HBCUs, or “Smart HBCUs,” to promote them as hubs of digital applications and innovation, and ensure their inclusion and awareness of broadband deployment grant opportunities.
James Clark, president of South Carolina State University, believes the MBI from the NTIA will jumpstart broadband in rural America.
“Once you have this infrastructure in place, then it allows you to imagine,” Clark told Government Technology. “If you have broadband in place, now you can imagine things that don’t even exist now.”
If the initiative could, for example, help the farms near his university with broadband access and funding, Clark said a path to maximizing South Carolina’s agricultural output is also possible using precision agriculture. The goal would be to double the land output in the next few years.
MBI lead Francine Alkisswani said: “We know that HBCUs have a major impact in these communities already. They generate massive numbers in terms of economic activity and jobs. They are an integral component of the broadband ecosystem, so we just want to do all that we can to leverage that to better ensure that these communities are connected.”
December 9, 2019