The Pew Center on the States has it right that the implementation of broadband networks is more of a local issue than a national issue even though as a fact the U.S. has fallen behind as a country. The federal government’s involvement should be to create policies that encourage the building of broadband networks and to remove any impediments that may be erected at state and local levels. The BIP and BTOP funding should serve as a catalyst to drive deployments and try different business models, not complete subsidize deployments. Each state and locality has unique needs and should be free to develop solutions to meet those needs. There is no single technology or business model that can be utilized across the country. Even the Bell System had local engineering centers that designed their local access networks using several Bell Labs approved technologies when they were appropriate. Funding broadband networks on the national level will require Congressional involvement. Anyone that understands how the appropriation of transportation funds works realizes that projects are funded based on political clout and less on need. If left at the federal level, broadband funding will be subject to the same process. The economic and geographic diversity across this country necessitates the need for the solution to our national problem to be resolved on a local level.
WASHINGTON June 30, 2010-The Pew Center on the States has just released a report on the importance of state government involvement in broadband. In essence the report aims to show the varied efforts that the states are making to expand broadband. Additionally they give a brief explanation of why the national purposes set out by the National Broadband Plan are important.
The report was assembled with assistance from the Public Policy Institute of California and the Internet & American Life Project. The report comes to the conclusion that if the United States does not increase its broadband availability it will fall behind economically and that the states are each trying to solve the problem of availability in unique ways. Additionally the funds made available via the Broadband Technologies Opportunities Program and the Broadband Data Improvement Act will allow the states to expand broadband.
The report then goes onto list a number of state projects including the e-NC Authority which was the first state created broadband agency in 2000. The e-NC Authority is charged with maintaining broadband availability, adoption and usage statistics. Additionally the authority helps provide broadband access to 158,000 residents and runs a number of telecenters for business use.