NSF News

To connect the unconnected through novel broadband technology solutions, NSF launches Project OVERCOME with US Ignite in seven communities

The U.S. National Science Foundation has launched Project OVERCOME with US Ignite to oversee multiple efforts that combine innovative technical and community-engagement approaches to reach underserved and unserved populations. The $2.7 million public-private partnership investment includes $2.25 million in funding from NSF, with Schmidt Futures joining as a financial and strategic partner to extend Project OVERCOME's geographic reach with an additional $450,000. The effort will support seven community deployments meant to uncover strategies for connecting underserved populations in ways that can be extended and replicated across the country.

"The pandemic has made clear just how critical broadband connectivity is to our livelihoods," said NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan. "While there is no single solution for closing the digital divide, we must bring communities, technologists and social scientists together to pursue multiple novel approaches for expanding broadband access for all."

Collectively, the seven projects will serve diverse communities reflecting a range of rural and urban environments, demographic characteristics, geographic regions, housing types, local and industry collaborations and technical approaches. The project management teams are also interdisciplinary and diverse in gender and ethnicity, and they comprise community, industry and academic partners. Seven community projects were selected:

  • DigitalC — Cleveland, Ohio: Internet service to an underserved and historically Black neighborhood delivered through a combination of fiber and millimeter-wave technologies, with local technical support and device purchase assistance
  • Missouri University of Science and Technology — Clinton County, Missouri: A Radio Frequency-over-Fiber deployment using intelligent routing and multiple last-mile wireless technologies to serve a rural community.
  • The Westchester County Association — Yonkers, New York: A citizens broadband radio service network in a digital opportunity zone supported by exceptional partnerships to ensure youth involvement and digital equity.
  • Onward Eugene — Blue River, Oregon: A resilient wireless link to rural McKenzie Valley combined with new fiber, a pilot citizens broadband radio service education network, and new incentives to attract further private broadband investment.
  • Libraries Without Borders — Loiza, Puerto Rico: A wireless mesh network deployed to three community centers providing digital skills training and health literacy information to low-income residents in underserved neighborhoods.
  • University at Buffalo — Buffalo, New York: Internet service delivered by citizens broadband radio service to an impoverished region known as the Fruit Belt neighborhood.
  • Allied Media Projects — Detroit, Michigan: A combination of fiber and fixed wireless infrastructure deployed and supported by a network of "digital stewards" employed at a neighborhood anchor institution.

"We were immensely gratified by the quality of proposals we received," said Joe Kochan, CEO for US Ignite. "It's a challenge to combine creative technology solutions with strong partnership and community engagement strategies. Yet we found proposers exceeded our expectations in both criteria, and we are delighted to announce not only a stellar lineup of winning projects, but also one that reflects a strong mix of environments, demographics, housing types, and geographic regions. We couldn't be more pleased with the results and what comes next for these communities."

The communities selected for Project OVERCOME will now begin an onboarding process to refine implementation plans, activate partnerships and prepare for network rollouts.

For more information about Project OVERCOME visit, https://www.us-ignite.org/program/overcome/.