Local Tech Wire

DURHAM, N.C. — Erik Garr spent a year of his life on the FCC’s National Broadband Plan.

The National Broadband Plan (NBP) lays out a bold roadmap to America’s future. Its initiatives will stimulate economic growth and job creation and boost capabilities in education, health care, homeland security and more.

The Chicago native, now a partner at Diamond Management and Technology Consultants, was the general manager and co-author of the NBP. Thursday, he addressed nearly 300 state leaders and educators during the first day of MCNC’s annual NCREN Community Day celebration at the N.C. School of Science and Mathematics.

North Carolina is exactly the model he had in mind when starting on the NBP, Garr said.

Only a few months ago, the FCC published its sweeping National Broadband Plan, which argues that broadband access is already essential for such basic needs as education, employment and communication. The plan urged Congress to ensure universal broadband adoption within the next decade.

Beyond the basics, the NBP’s authors concluded that broadband Internet will soon play a key role in health care, public safety and access to government services. And without universal adoption, the development of critical future innovations will be slowed.

“The right answer is federal support to support the needs for everyone from Research Triangle Park to rural areas of the state,” said Garr. “There is something American about including our public dollars to help all citizens. And, I think it’s going to work here in North Carolina.”

The FCC started the process of creating this plan with a Notice of Inquiry in April 2009. Thirty-six public workshops held at the FCC and streamed online drew more than 10,000 in-person or online attendees and resulted in the framework for the ideas contained in the plan.

These ideas were then refined based in replies to 31 public notices, which generated some 23,000 comments totaling about 74,000 pages from more than 700 parties. The FCC also received about 1,100 ex parte filings totaling some 13,000 pages, and nine public hearings were held throughout the country to further clarify the issues addressed in the plan.

“I’m very impressed with Erik’s background and the diligence he put into this plan,” said Joe Freddoso, president and CEO of MCNC. “His presentation provided deep insight on the true desire of the FCC to prioritize access to broadband to rural and underserved citizens in North Carolina and nationwide.”

NCREN Community Day continues Friday at 8 a.m. Second-day highlights include keynote remarks by U.S. Rep. David Price and panel discussions on the impacts of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program funding in North Carolina, networking applications, and Technology in Action: What This Means to Students?

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