As the economy continues to reshape and rebuild from the most recent economic downturn, the importance of broadband becomes even more relevant in enabling innovation, connecting people to jobs, and providing opportunities for business growth.  At times libraries may not be viewed as an important factor in this redevelopment; however, libraries are in fact a crucial aspect...and broadband has been a means to helping libraries better support their communities and residents to succeed.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has recognized this need and is revamping the E-rate program and doubling the funding for broadband capacity in libraries to procure the resources they need to build network capacity.  

In order to take full advantage of broadband funding opportunities, it is important for libraries to know their current broadband capacity and usage and what upload and download speeds is currently available from their providers.

As part of the State Broadband Initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funds, New Jersey has been collecting broadband data from the community anchor institutions and updating the New Jersey Broadband Map and National Broadband Map every six months.

The final data collection effort occurred in Summer 2014. The data collected will be included on New Jersey's broadband map and will also become the official broadband map that the FCC, policy makers, local planning officials, and other key stakeholders can use to plan and determine eligibility of broadband related funding and grants. 

Libraries can also use the broadband map to substantiate their opportunity to apply for a grant to upgrade their broadband technology infrastructure and get the technical assistance needed to better serve their communities.

The chart below depicts the current broadband capacity for libraries across the State. As you can see, the blue legend indicates there is still a lot of data missing to truly obtain a full picture of broadband capacity in New Jersey's libraries.

Also of importance to note, the green legend indicates that very few libraries have next generation broadband capacity, which is an opportunity to help NJ libraries to obtain the funding to gain the capacity needed. 

The map will be the official tool of the FCC for broadband funding and broadband assessment nationwide.