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PSN on July 1, 2008 - 10:35am
Once under-served populations are determined, affordable high-speed Internet needs to be deployed to these individuals. The first step to successful deployment of broadband Internet infrastructure is for states to create broadband authorities, consisting of diverse stakeholders, capable of developing a smart deployment strategy.
Broadband authorities provide a forum for public/private collaboration and “big picture” policy direction. Any legislation establishing an authority should require the council consist of diverse members representing various stakeholders and experts with the express purpose of protecting municipalities’ rights, and establishing clear deployment and adoption goals and accountability metrics.
An authority should have strong representation from a range of community members, including local community planning groups, public interest organizations, education professionals, health care providers, public safety employees, labor groups, and state and local government leaders. It is crucial that legislation ensures that if telecommunication and service providers are part of an authority that they are balanced fairly by community voices. Providers should not have enough seats to constitute a voting quorum, since this would open up the possibility of biased findings, and hinder the committee's ability to protect the public interest. This past legislative session, a few states created high-speed Internet councils, although some of these councils included too many industry representatives and lack appropriate accountability and oversight mechanisms.
- West Virginia House Bill 4637 created a Broadband Development Fund and a Broadband Deployment Council. The Broadband Deployment Council, will provide for the development of a strategy and mechanism to be employed in extending broadband access to every West Virginian by stimulating demand for those services, and by constructing the necessary infrastructure to meet that demand.
- Minnesota Senate File 1918 is a forward looking bill, which establishes an Ultra High-Speed Broadband Goal Task Force. One of the responsibilities of the task force is to make specific recommendations identifying a level of high-speed Internet service and connection speed that will be needed by the year 2015.
- Washington State enacted a bill that uses an intra-government partnership approach to ensure that deployment of the Internet will provide smart utilization in addition to increased access. Senate Bill 6438 requires a public-private partnership including representatives of organizations representing education, health care, economic development, community development, local government, telecom providers, tech companies, and telecom unions to develop a comprehensive and integrated statewide, high-speed Internet deployment and adoption strategy. The partnership’s goals include: (1) working to ensure that all residents and businesses have access to affordable and reliable high-speed Internet services; (2) achieving improved technology inclusion; (3) establishing and empowering local technology planning teams to assist in technology inclusion efforts; and (4) establishing and sustaining an environment ripe for statewide telecommunications and technology investment.
Further, broadband authorities should include language to protect municipalities’ ability to buildtheir own networks. For example, Illinois SenateBill 2244, the High Speed Internet Services and Information Technology Act of 2008, included a specific statement making it clear that nothing in the deployment council enacting legislation should be construed to limit the ability of any municipality, county, or other unit of local government toundertake local high-speed Internet projects and related functions.
Final Report of the California High-speedInternet Task Force - State ofConnectivity: Building InnovationThrough High-speed Internet
Progressive States - Mappingand Deploying High-Speed Internet
Educause White Paper, A Blueprint for Big Broadband