The Broadband-Driven Economy: How to Plan It, Fund It, Measure It

My annual survey of IEDC members and other economic development professionals regarding how broadband impacts local economies closes Tuesday (April 1), so get on the stick if you’re in the profession but haven’t completed the survey (click here). This year, I’ve changed up a few things to focus more on applications than technology. And as you can read below, I also received some feedback about the role of econ dev pros in maximizing broadband’s benefits.

The first section of the survey asks members to report on the current state of highspeed Internet access in their jurisdictions. The second poses questions about how respondents see broadband being used to impact business development, healthcare delivery and education.

The third section asks them to assess various options for funding broadband networks, and models for communities to own and operate the business of broadband, even if the community isn’t becoming an ISP. The fourth section addresses key broadband policy issues such as facilitating competition and providing consumer protections.

I’m presenting the survey results next week during a keynote session I’m sharing with IEDC’s Chair of the Board, Bill Sproull, at the Broadband Communities Summit in Austin, TX. In going through the surveys responses so far, I read some of the answers to the open-ended question, “What are two things economic development professionals such as yourself need to do to help the network impact specific outcomes?”

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Tennessee Legies Go Into Pro-Public Broadband Frenzy

While broadband advocates were fighting fierce battles to defeat anti-muni network bills that were eventually won in Kansas and twice in Utah, Tennessee legislators were quietly ushering through not one but FOUR bills to un-do some of the restrictions previous legies put in place several years ago.

This kind of reversal is practically unheard of in the 19 states that clamped lids on muni nets. What’s more surprising? Republicans lawmakers, typically the party that leads the charge against public-owned networks, are taking the lead on many of these bills in Tennessee!

TN legiesActually what’s happening is full bi-partisanship in dual-chamber drives. A rather impressive display, really. Each bill has a state senate and state house version, there are Republican and Democratic sponsors of the bills and most of the bills appear to have several co-sponsors from both parties. Yowsah! This is sort of like Santa Claus making a second post-Christmas delivery for community broadband advocates when you consider the muni net wins in very conservative Utah and Kansas, and now this Tennessee waltz.

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