Economic development professionals made it clear in a recent survey that muni broadband networks need to be the cornerstone of the Obama administration’s plan to create jobs and revitalize businesses through infrastructure investment.
My survey of these professionals on the front lines fighting the economic crisis fuels the rapidly growing call for a national broadband strategy, but reveals it may not be Washington or the telcom industry that carries the day. The solution for turning broadband into an economic development engine lies primarily in the hands of local and regional governments and businesses, with the federal government playing a vital supporting role. The worse thing that could happen is to have the national telecom companies driving national broadband policy.
The report I released today reveals that among the respondents to this survey
- 13% have or are building area-wide wireless networks and 38% have limited-reach wireless networks, while 27% have or are building wired networks and 16% have limited-reach wired networks
- 25% with wireless networks say these directly or indirectly improved local businesses’profitability, as do 41% of those with wired networks
- 66% without limited-reach wireless and 46% without limited-reach wired networks would encourage business communities to build them
- 66% feel muni networks can improve disadvantaged businesses, 69% say the networks can be used to re-train the workforce in these areas
- 71% believe muni networks can influence individual entrepreneurship in underserved areas
Click here to access the survey report.
Equally or more important, though, is the supplement to this report I’m writing that comes out next week. I’m conducting in-depth interviews with additional experts and others who have been delivering economic development results through various broadband projects. Together in the supplement we’ll present a blueprint for action that local and federal government agencies should consult to move these projects forward successfully.
Another page of interest: Many people who completed the survey left comments on muni broadband you may find interesting.