I was able to start my internship with Connected Nation on Tuesday, April 6th. Because I just started, however, a lot of my time was spent getting acquainted with other staff members and my responsibilities as an intern. With that being said, I was still able to explore some pretty interesting things about broadband infrastructure.
On Tuesday I got to join two conference calls to discuss plans for helping communities improve their broadband speed and access. The first call was hosted by Connected Nation Texas and the second was hosted by the Connected Nation Michigan Economic Development Commission (MEDC). While both calls felt a bit like I was having a foreign language spoken to me, I was able to pick up a common theme in both calls: internet service providers (ISPs) could cause a lot of frustration.
The reason for this is because providers can often be uncomfortable sharing their information, which can make things like mapping broadband data and blogging difficult for people in the business of expanding broadband. As my advisor Chris Mcgovern said, “There are a variety of opinions about this in the policy world. Some people argue that internet service providers (ISPs) should be required to provide better information about the speeds/prices they offer. Others argue that making this a requirement would reduce an incentive for ISPs to expand their coverage.” Additionally, there were talks about Biden’s $100 billion internet plan and how that may help some of the communities Connected Nation works with.
The main assignment I was given was to help clean up data in spreadsheets that would help map internet speeds in Texas communities. I helped improve the data in residential, business, health, agriculture, government, safety, library, and k-12 spreadsheets. This data will eventually be implemented on myconnectedcommunity.org. Below is a map of the coverage in San Augustine, Texas.