Moving the Needle Forward on Broadband & Economic Development

August and September, in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), I conducted a national survey of IEDC members and others affiliated with IEDC. The primary goal was to get a snapshot of how broadband impacts local economic outcomes. A secondary goal was to gather some insights to leveraging broadband as an economic development asset.

This is the only survey that goes directly to the people who work in the trenches daily impacting local economic outcomes. Here is where I separate some of the hype surrounding broadband’s power to transform local economies with some reality checks. Some of the findings from this year’s survey include:

  • only 11% of economic developers believe broadband’s biggest economic benefit to individuals is helping them find jobs;
  • 18% of respondents have insufficient speeds to produce economic outcomes listed and have given up hope for a solution; Continue reading

Your Broadband Education Straight from the Source

Nowhere else on the Web can you find such a complete source of first-hand broadband project management and policy experience. And this knowledgebase grows weekly.

Last August I launched Gigabit Nation, the only radio talk show devoted to broadband, and have amassed quite a treasure trove of excellent insights as well as advice from people immersed in broadband projects and policy. Over 60 hours of interviews with public, private and nonprofit sector leaders who are getting broadband done.

Below is just a sampling of Gigabit Nation interviews. Go to the show’s Web site to get the complete list of archived shows. And don’t miss my upcoming shows. There are new guests and new topics every week. Tell your friends.

[Take this 5-minute survey to influence topics for future shows]

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Walking in the Shoes of Poor Kids Using Broadband

Just before the holidays, a columnist (Gene Marks) for Forbes Magazine wrote a piece “If I Was a Poor Black Kid.” It presents how he would handle life and deal with technology if, instead of being a middle class, middle aged white guy from the suburbs, he were walking in a poor kid’s shoes. The resulting firestorm was swift, intense and largely negative, not as much for the ideas as for Marks’ tone and erroneous assumptions behind those ideas.

Unfortunately, one of the underlying causes for these off-the-mark assumptions is the stereotype that urban poor kids don’t do anything worthwhile on the Internet. So many articles about digital inclusion efforts or broadband adoption among inner city poor folks are followed by incendiary commentary from those who believe poor kids are lazy, only surf porn, aren’t capable of learning and a host of other fallacies.

There’s quite a different reality when you do a little research. There are projects going on that are lifting kids out of poverty and setting them on various tech-related career paths. Here are a couple that should be promoted and replicated in some way by those individuals, government agencies and organizations wanting to close the digital divide.

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