Broadband internet has become increasingly important in the 21st century, as more and more aspects of everyday life, such as job applications and homework assignments, require the use of digital technologies. Providing increased broadband access has been an ongoing challenge, as some of the United States — particularly rural areas — have limited or no access to broadband. The gap between those who have access to broadband and those who do not is referred to as the digital divide. During the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, many federal, local, and state governments, in addition to large and small businesses, implemented remote working or distance learning options to help abate the spread of the virus while allowing employees to continue to work. However, COVID-19 mitigation efforts further revealed discrepancies in broadband availability and accessibility across the United States.
The Universal Service Fund (USF) programs under the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) are a primary source of funds for broadband infrastructure and adoption. According to the FCC’s 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, “we find for the third consecutive year that advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed on a reasonable and timely basis. Despite this finding, our work to close the digital divide is not complete. The Commission will continue its efforts to ensure that all Americans have the ability to access broadband.”
One of the programs initiated by the FCC under the USF is the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), the FCC’s next step in addressing the digital divide. Building upon the model used by the FCC in a previous auction related to broadband, the FCC plans to commit $20.4 billion of these funds to bring high-speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses in two phases. Phase I proposes to allocate up to $16 billion to areas that are completely unserved by broadband with a minimum download rate of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload rate of 3 Mbps, as determined by the FCC’s current broadband data. Phase II proposes to allocate an estimated $4.4 billion to areas partially served by broadband with 25/3 Mbps speed. The FCC plans to identify the Phase II areas by using data from the FCC’s forthcoming Digital Opportunity Data Collection, which is to collect more granular data to improve the FCC’s current broadband map, as required under the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (P.L. 116-130). The auction for Phase I (Auction 904) is scheduled for October 29, 2020. There are a number of potential policy issues Congress may choose to consider:
- acceleration of the RDOF timeline to get broadband infrastructure built and deployed more quickly,
- deceleration of the RDOF timeline due to COVID-19 pandemic,
- whether or not to wait for the creation of a broadband map with more accurate data before moving forward with Phase I of RDOF,
- exclusion of areas from RDOF eligibility if a service provider is committed to building out 25/3 Mbps in a
census block using subsidies from similar state or federal broadband programs, and
- removal of Eligible Telecommunications Carrier status as a requirement to receive RDOF subsidies.
Booming Legacybox to Add 60,000 Square Feet of Warehouse Space for Digitizing Operations
With new expansion Chattanooga-based Legacybox, a national e-commerce success story, now has nearly 110,000 square feet of production space spanning more than five acres
Press Release, August 28, 2020 09:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (ESN.net) Legacybox, the largest mail-in solution for digitizing home videos and photos, continues to expand in its Chattanooga-based headquarters to meet national demand for its services. The company’s leadership, cofounders Nick Macco and Adam Boeselager, have acquired another 60,000 square feet of production space on its current production and fulfillment focused campus, which is now greater than five acres.
Legacybox adds 60,000 square feet of space for digitizing operations to meet national demand as more people look to protect analog media for generations to come.
Hamilton County Mayor Jim Coppinger greeted this news with enthusiasm, “Legacybox’s expansion is more than just the preservation of memories for generations. This is also opportunity for Hamilton County residents as the company continues to grow and expand. We are excited about the opportunity for new jobs as the company continues to meet the needs of hundreds of thousands of families across the world who wish to preserve the precious moments of their lives in a digital format.”
Construction and renovations have begun on the new production space which will be operational in 2021. The space will allow the company to digitize more than 75,000 home movies per week.
“Legacybox is a point of pride for Chattanooga,” said Charles Wood, Vice President of Economic Development at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce. “They are the national leader in their space, creative innovators, and employers of hundreds. They continue to invest in our city and in our people. The sky is the limit for them, and it is exciting to know that from their growing Chattanooga facility they are sustaining legacies for hundreds of thousands of families across the U.S.”
Legacybox now employs over 300 people in Chattanooga – this includes 25 new managers recently promoted and trained across three shifts. Further growth to come in 2021 when the new product space opens.
“The importance of protecting analog media for generations to come has been further reinforced as people have more time to spend time at the home and with family to consider legacy and what is important,” said Boeslager and Macco. “We’re proud to invest further in our operations and to employ more in fulfilling work that creates lasting happiness. Chattanooga has absolutely played an important role in our success – the talent is here; the technology is here; and we’ll continue to invest here.”
For its upcoming and current facility, Legacybox partnered with EPB to equip 5GB fiber to manage massive needs for digital uploads, providing videos and photos to customers over the cloud. The company is quickly approaching more than 1,000,000 customers served.
For more on Legacybox and its solutions, offerings, and frequent job postings, visit: legacybox.com
SIGGRAPH 2020 Makes Digital Magic During First Virtual Conference
Global Event Also Honors ‘Best of’ Computer Graphics Industry With Premier Awards
Press Release, August 28, 2020 08:29 PM Eastern Daylight Time
CHICAGO (ESN.net) SIGGRAPH 2020, which launched online on 17 August, has concluded its live session week with nearly 400,000 streams worldwide. The 47th annual international conference and exhibition on computer graphics and interactive techniques was held for the first time virtually and, though no new content will air, will remain open for registration through 11 September, with content accessible to participants until 27 October.
On the conclusion of the event, SIGGRAPH 2020 Conference Chair Kristy Pron shared, “SIGGRAPH 2020 was a huge testament to the strength and collaboration of the incredible graphics community. While we love to gather in-person and many missed the chance to see old friends, our incredible contributors and exhibitors brought their A game to this online experiment, and I could not be happier to have presided over SIGGRAPH’s first virtual conference.”
As is expected of the event, virtual SIGGRAPH 2020 played host to the latest innovations in art, science, and technology from more than 1600 contributors across 700 presentations during its two-week release, 17–28 August. To date, the conference has been welcomed and enjoyed by an international audience from 95 countries. Representation from six out of seven continents included participants from the United States, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, France, Brazil, Israel, China, and more. Not to be out done, this year’s Exhibition housed more than 80 diverse companies, who showcased the latest in computer graphics hardware, software, and more during custom virtual demonstrations and over 70 curated sessions.
Highlights from the conference included a magical keynote from cyber illusionist Marco Tempest, executive director of New York’s magicLab; the presentation of 163 research papers and 69 posters; three world-premiere animated shorts in the Computer Animation Festival Electronic Theater; the worldwide release of Magic Leap’s “The Last Light”, a VR Theater selection, and the unveiling of Felix & Paul Studios’ first AR Project, a collaboration with The Jim Henson Company; ACM SIGGRAPH’s two-day Diversity and Inclusion Summit; sneak peek Production Sessions and Talks focusing on not only film and games but prestige TV and advertising; two retrospective panels celebrating pioneers from PDI (Pacific Data Images) and the NYIT Computer Graphics Lab, respectively; and the first-ever Real-Time Live! global broadcast.
SIGGRAPH 2020 conference award winners are:
ACM Student Research Competition
First Place, Graduate – “Bound-constrained Optimized Dynamic Range Compression” by
Dorian Chan, Carnegie Mellon University
First Place, Undergraduate – “Non-photorealistic Radiance Remapping” by
Kohei Doi, Kyushu University
Best in Show – “Cacophonic Choir” by
Hannah E. Wolfe, Colby College; Sölen Kiratli, Media Arts and Technology Program (MAT), UCSB, University of California Santa Barbara; and Alex John Bundy, Planetarium Music
Best in Show – “Enhanced Family Tree: Evolving Research and Expression” by
Fan Xiang, Shunshan Zhu, Zhigang Wang, Kevin Maher, Yi Liu, and Zhiqiang Liang, Tsinghua University; Yilin Zhu, Stanford University; and Kaixi Chen, Beijing Yuguo Culture and Technology Ltd. Inc.
Computer Animation Festival Electronic Theater
Best in Show – “Loop” by Erica Milsom, Pixar Animation Studios (United States)
Best Student Project – “Gunpowder” by Romane Faure of Supinfocom Rubika (France)
Jury’s Choice – “The Beauty” by Pascal Schelbli of Filmakademie Baden-Württemberg GmbH, Animationsinstitut (Germany)
Audience Choice – “To: Gerard” by Taylor Meacham, DreamWorks Animation (United States)
Special Recognition – “Stem Cells: The Heroes in Crohn’s Perianal Fistula Treatment” by Alan Smith, MadMicrobe Studios (United Kingdom)
Immersive (Immersive Pavilion and VR Theater)
Best in Show – “DeepView Immersive Light Field Video” by
Michael Broxton, Daniel Erickson, Jason Dourgarian, Jay Busch, Matthew DuVall, Matt Whalen, John Flynn, Ryan Overbeck, Peter Hedman, and Paul Debevec, Google Inc.
Best in Show (Tie) –
“Interactive Style Transfer to Live Video Streams” by
Ondřej Texler, David Futschik, Michal Kučera, Ondřej Jamriška, Šárka Sochorová, and Daniel Sýkora, CTU in Prague, FEE; and Menglei Chai and Sergey Tulyakov, Snap Inc.
“Volumetric Human Teleportation” by
Ruilong Li, Kyle Olszewski, Yuliang Xiu, Shunsuke Saito, and Zeng Huang, University of Southern California; and Hao Li, University of Southern California, Pinscreen
Audience Choice – “DrawmaticAR – Automagical AR Content From Written Words!” by
Yosun Chang, AReality3D, Permute.xyz
Register to access on-demand SIGGRAPH 2020 content through 11 September at s2020.SIGGRAPH.org/register.
About ACM, ACM SIGGRAPH and SIGGRAPH 2020
ACM, the Association for Computing Machinery, is the world’s largest educational and scientific computing society, uniting educators, researchers, and professionals to inspire dialogue, share resources, and address the field’s challenges. ACM SIGGRAPH is a special interest group within ACM that serves as an interdisciplinary community for members in research, technology, and applications in computer graphics and interactive techniques. The SIGGRAPH conference is the world’s leading annual interdisciplinary educational experience showcasing the latest in computer graphics and interactive techniques. SIGGRAPH 2020, the 47th annual conference hosted by ACM SIGGRAPH, will take place virtually.