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FCC to propose 62 percent increase in money to wire schools; would help connect rural schools...

Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler is expected to propose a 62 percent increase in the amount of money the agency spends annually to wire schools and libraries with high-speed Internet connections, Edward Wyatt reports for The New York Times. The move would increase the FCC's annual cap on spending for school Internet from $1.5 billion to $3.9 billion. (NYT photo by Mark Holm: FCC chairman Tom Wheeler)

The move would most benefit rural areas, where "seven in 10 rural districts say none of their schools can meet high-speed Internet connectivity targets today," Wyatt writes. "Schools in affluent areas are three times more likely to meet speed targets as those in low-income areas, the FCC says." 

"Libraries need upgrades too, and in low-income and rural areas, they are important because they often provide the only available Internet connection for many people," Wyatt writes. "Yet half of all public libraries report connection speeds of less than 10 megabits per second. Mr. Wheeler has said 25 megabits per second should be considered “table stakes” in 21st-century communications." 

"The new spending would lead to an increase of roughly 16 percent in the monthly fee on consumers’ phone bills," Wyatt writes. "The fee is used to finance the Universal Service Fund, an $8.7 billion effort that provides phone and broadband connections for low-income populations, rural areas, and schools and libraries."

"FCC officials say consumers would pay less than $2 a year in additional fees per phone line, or less than $6 extra per household, on average; currently the average household pays about $36 a year," Wyatt writes. "But the amount an individual household pays can vary widely, with fees assessed on both home and mobile service. Businesses pay into the program as well." (Read more)

Written by Tim Mandell Posted at 11/18/2014


Obama wants Internet regulated like utilities; Sen. McConnell says move would stifle innovation

President Barack Obama said on Monday that because the Internet is as important in Americans' lives as electricity and telephone service, it should be "regulated like those utilities to protect consumers," Edward Wyatt writes for The New York Times. Obama said the Federal Communications Commission should make this change to keep broadband companies from slowing down legal content or allowing content providers to pay extra for a fast lane.

This discussion is especially important for rural areas, many of which do not have adequate broadband access to begin with. Also, innovation and start-ups can be particularly beneficial to rural people, so considering whether this change would promote that is important.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C.Many see the president's move as support of Tom Wheeler, F.C.C. chairman, who is working on a plan to protect open Internet—called net neutrality. "The debate may hinge on whether Internet access is considered a necessity, like electricity, or more of an often-costly option, like cable TV," Wyatt writes. Netflix, Democrats in Congress and consumer advocacy groups are the move's primary supporters, but leading providers of Internet access, Republicans and some investment groups do not like the idea and say this regulation is too heavy-handed and will hurt online investment and innovation.

Companies that make routers and servers, represented by the Telecommunications Industry Association, said they "strongly urge regulators to refrain from reclassification that will guarantee harm to consumers, the economy and the very technologies we're trying to protect." Senator John Thune of South Dakota said the effort "would turn the Internet into a government-regulated utility and stifle our nation's dynamic and robust Internet sector with rules written nearly 80 years ago for plain old telephone service."

U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell sent a statement in response to Obama's announcement about the regulations. He wrote that the Internet currently allows innovators to create and sell products people like and makes jobs "without waiting around for government permission." The President's decision "to abandon this successful approach in favor of more heavy-handed regulation that will stifle innovation and concentrate more power in the hands of Washington bureaucrats is a terrible idea. The Commission would be wise to reject it." (Read more)

Written by Melissa Landon Posted at 11/11/2014 

Nov. 4, 2014;

MSU News: ‘Growing the Broadband Economy in East Kentucky’ slated for Nov. 10


MOREHEAD, Ky.---The Kentucky Innovation Network office at Morehead State University will host a conference titled “Growing the Broadband Economy in Eastern Kentucky, Monday, Nov. 10, from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the Morehead Conference Center.

Everyone agrees that rural Appalachia needs a high speed, broadband internet network to create a new economy in eastern Kentucky. But once the network is built, how will it best be utilized?  This question is especially important when it comes to creating more businesses and jobs in the region.

The goal of this meeting is to tackle one of the hottest topics in Appalachian Kentucky today: high speed internet and the way in which it can grow our region’s economy.

The conference, which is open to the public, will cover a variety of subjects and also will show entrepreneurs how the web can help grow their businesses.

Web development: companies and organizations will receive a free web assessment to determine if they should be on the web or if they need to improve an existing web presence.

Coding academies for youth: Eastern Kentucky has a real opportunity to create an emerging workforce of website, app and software developers. Kevin Smith, a founder of Rural Up, an emerging software academy for youth, will talk about this organization’s work to get young people excited about coding.

High speed food tourism: New attractions focused on food tourism are taking root across eastern Kentucky, including food destinations, entertainment venues, farm-to-table models, trail towns and more.  Too often, these attractions lack a strong web strategy that can draw in customers from other parts of the country.  Jessica Robinson, owner of Print + Pixel, a web development and marketing company located in Morehead, will discuss proven models that link local venues to a global customer base through the power of the internet.

The Potential for ISPs to Grow a Digital Economy: ISPs (internet service providers) have a major stake in seeing the internet economy grow.  The more demand for their product, the greater and more reliable their customer base.  How can ISPs work to increase demand for broadband services?  Are there new services and revenue streams they can create that will bring new customers onto their grid? These questions will be discussed.

Thinking Big about the Space Economy: In Morehead, one of the biggest players in the high speed internet economy is the emerging space industry, centered on the Morehead State University Space Science Center.  Whether it’s building satellites, navigating them in orbit, or pulling data from them as they circle the earth, the internet is vital to the center’s efforts.  The space program also is beginning to spin off new businesses.

What is the potential for this emerging, web-based economy in a small place like Morehead?  Dr. William Vartorella, a respected futurist, will present some of his ideas in a presentation titled "Exploiting the New Space Economy: Cryptocurrency, CubeSats, and Atypical Consortial Alliances in a Rural Broadband Setting."

SpaceTemp: With all the talent that’s being developed at MSU in the space industry, students now have the potential to work with space science companies located anywhere in the world.  One of the MSU Space Science Center’s top students will propose a new business model that will allow these students to be a part of a temporary staff for space companies across the globe.  By harnessing the power of the web, MSU students will be able to bridge the geographic divide and ultimately create global connections that will bring the growing satellite industry one step closer to eastern Kentucky.

With high-speed internet nearly at our fingertips, now is the time to figure out how to use it to build a new economy in eastern Kentucky. This event is a good place to start.

Additional information is available by contacting Johnathan Gay, director of the Kentucky Innovation Network office at MSU, at 606-783-9536.


Jason Blanton

Media Relations Director

Morehead State University

Phone: 606-783-2030


Date: 11-11-2014;

Mobile tech classroom sparks student interest...

Monday morning outside West Kentucky Community and Technical College's Emerging Technology Center, Samsung Mobile set up shop in a 100-foot technology-integrated mobile classroom full of Raspberry Pies.

Brandyn Potavin (left) of Gilbertsville, a visual communications major with information technology background, works on the computer systems provided by the Samsung Mobile U Tour on Monday at West Kentucky Community & Technical College' s Emerging Technology Center in Paducah.A Raspberry Pi (pronounced just like the dessert) is a low-cost, credit-card sized computer that plugs into a monitor or TV and uses a standard keyboard and mouse. Samsung assembled a small fleet of these tiny circuit boards, connected them to a fleet of Samsung Chrome Books, and extended an open invitation for local students to use the devices and learn computation and programming skills. 

WKCTC was Samsung's first stop along its Samsung Mobile U Tour, an initiative designed to target community and technical college students and spark their interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers.

"We do a number of STEM education support programs, but this program really stands for our vision to grow more homegrown engineers," said Cindy Chang, Samsung marketing manager.

"These students who graduate with engineering and technical degrees, they could ultimately become our future employees. It completes this pathway of support," she said.

The mobile classroom was open Monday to all students at every skill level. The program offers three curriculum routes: beginner, intermediate and advanced. Beginners can learn more about the general nature of how computers work, as well as the basic principles of computer programming.

"Coding is something that, if you haven't been introduced to it, can be very intimidating," Chang said. "But it doesn't have to be."

Students who take the intermediate route get to build their own program and modify the source code of existing games built in Python to change how the games work in real time. Python is an increasingly popular computer language used to build applications like Dropbox.

Advanced students are given the opportunity to create a web server on the Raspberry Pi and create and host a website on that server.

The national need for STEM skills is great, and is only expected to grow. Jobs in computer systems design and related industries are expected to grow by 45 percent by 2018, according to the National Math and Science Initiative.

In a 2011 report exploring the economic value of various college majors, Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce found that of their 15 college major categories, engineering led to the highest median earnings. Despite that figure, the study found that less than 20 percent of students choose a STEM path in school. "This is an exciting thing for us to have," said WKCTC President Barbara Veazey of Samsung's mobile classroom. "For our students to see that a bigger job - like a job with Samsung - is a real possibility for them is huge. This is Samsung's first time to highlight the importance of the community college and STEM education as a pathway to a great job."

Veazey explained that WKCTC's Emerging Technology Center was built in hopes of remedying a very real problem - a lack of technically skilled workers.

"It didn't happen overnight," Veazey said. "It was a deliberate recognition of a need and a problem. We tried to address it as a community, and we did."

Both Chang and Veazey said they hope the Samsung Mobile U initiative will spark more student interest in STEM career paths.

"It's just amazing, isn't it?" said Tammy Potter, WKCTC dean of business and computer-related technologies. "Wednesday and Thursday we have almost every time slot filled with CIT (computer information technologies) and engineering students. I know they're really excited about learning to work in Python. For our students to see this type of technology is very exciting, because it gets them out of the classroom and enables them to see something new."

The Samsung Mobile U crew has prearranged class sessions with WKCTC students for Wednesday and Thursday, but said they won't turn anyone away. The mobile classroom, parked in front of the Emerging Technology Center, will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday.


The Paducah Sun

New technology might turn TV into shopping list

By Grace Schneider
The Courier-Journal

Long Trail Technologies LLC recently released a new product that helped cast the spotlight on tech innovation from Kentuckiana.

Bardstown-based banker and real-estate developer D.L. Chowning and partner David Bard are working with a team on RooClick, interactive technology that can be overlaid, or enabled, on TV shows, web-based videos, movies and even on a jumbo screen at live sporting events.

The technology is being developed to work both with a media player and in concert with companion app on a cell phone, tablet or other device. For instance, using the companion app, a person watching "Big Bang Theory," a popular network TV show, might spot an actor on the screen he doesn't recognize and grabs his phone.

After opening the RooClick app and clicking on the TV channel, he would see a photo of actors on the show and click on the image of the star he wants to learn more about. Then he can scroll through information about the actor on his phone, including previous TV and film roles, their Facebook page and other details.

The media player will allow people to watch a pro football game or local news show, and click on items on the screen, such as a news anchor's tie or vase on coffee table to get more information and even purchase items for sale.

However, that would only work for shows where the information for such items was embedded in the program, not for everything being broadcast.

The same technology could be used in classrooms someday, but its creators are excited about its potential to revolutionize advertising.

"Every single frame in any video becomes an advertising opportunity," said John Selvage, chief technology officer and a stakeholder in the business that he and Bard, a former Tech Republic employee, dreamed up while chatting at a Derby party 18 months ago.

RooClick's team, which includes site administrator Aaron McCauley, lead engineer Dan Clarke and chief operating officer Jennifer Hardin, has spent recent months building the technological backbone and rolled out companion apps for the web, and Android and iOs (Apple) devices.

Focus group members testing the device from their homes offered positive reviews, but the creators say they're still tweaking the technology before taking the next steps – adding partners, such as cable TV providers in Louisville and other markets, and launching a marketing campaign to familiarize the public with the concept.

Chowning and Bard have met with movie producers, television stations and newspapers which produce original content to test the device and gather comment. Media executives seem to quickly grasp the power of product that allows people to buy on the spot, said Chowning, who declined to disclose the initial investment he's made in the venture.

When they've shown a video to a newspaper executive or TV station manager, he said, "They get it. They know it's the way things are going."

Selvage, a custom software consultant and former senior engineer with aerospace manufacturer Martin Marietta Corp., said several companies are tinkering with similar technology but RooClick's team is in the lead.

"We know there are companies all around it," said Selvage, who lives in Middletown. But "we're ahead of Google and we plan to stay ahead of Google."