WASHINGTON – October 5, 2020 – US Ignite today announces the launch of Project OVERCOME, a National Science Foundation- (NSF-) funded effort to accelerate the delivery of broadband services to unserved and underserved communities. The project has received an NSF grant award (Award # CNS-2044448) of $1.945 million, which will support the selection and buildout of five proof-of-concept network deployments designed to connect both rural and urban communities in novel ways. US Ignite will oversee the selection process as well as the build-out phase of the winning concept proposals. Project teams will be chosen based on the use of innovative technologies, such as mesh networks and new spectrum access solutions, as well as creative deployment models that leverage both public and private sector partners. Over $1.5 million in funding will be awarded to community winners of the solicitation.
Throughout Project OVERCOME, US Ignite will collect data to measure the technical and social impacts of different connectivity strategies. Using these data, and through subsequent analysis, US Ignite aims to discover patterns of success that can be repeated on a larger scale across the country, and to catalog the distinctions that emerge based on variations in the communities served.
“While ensuring greater connectivity has always been important, the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have turned a desire to deliver broadband to everyone into a critical priority for the nation,” said Lee Davenport, Director of Community Development for US Ignite. “Because large-scale efforts to expand broadband access can take years to complete, we’ve designed this project to take advantage of innovative approaches that connect people quickly, and that have the potential to be scaled out to other communities nationwide.”
Project OVERCOME is ready to begin an accelerated startup process and will release a solicitation for community proposals within the month. Participating teams should draw from some combination of academic, nonprofit, industry, government, student, and volunteer partners. The five proposals ultimately selected will reflect a mix of population density characteristics, demographics, geographic regions, housing types, local and industry collaborations, and technical approaches.
“The pandemic has exposed both the need and a growing motivation to close the digital divide,” said Deep Medhi, Program Director in NSF’s Computer & Network Systems (CNS) division. “Combined with the availability of new and innovative network access technologies, those factors give us a real opportunity to explore new possibilities with broadband, and to do so in the communities where connectivity is needed most.”
With advice from NSF program officers, US Ignite and technology experts will select the winners for Project OVERCOME by early spring 2021 and will rapidly transition to an early implementation phase. US Ignite staff will work with the selected teams to help finalize network designs, streamline equipment purchasing and deployment, and develop outreach plans for broadband service uptake. Within a year, the project will not only deliver five proofs of concept for network connectivity, but it will also provide a significant quantity of data to help inform a national broadband strategy.
For more information on Project OVERCOME and details on the upcoming solicitation process, please contact Lee Davenport.