I don’t pay as much attention to what’s happening with broadband in Wisconsin, because there are just so many hours to the day and so much happening in Minnesota – but a friend sent me a recent report from the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction; it’s a Background Paper on School and Library Broadband and Internet Access in Wisconsin. It’s very detailed and definitely written from the perspective of the school and library crowd but it caught my eye as a great look at the historical challenge of public-private partnership.
The report comes in response to news release from Access Wisconsin, a collection of independent telecommunications providers, that “applauded Joint Finance action prohibiting UW involvement in telecommunications business.”
I think the big picture is trying to balance
- Government support for school and library broadband connectivity (which with E-rate programs and other has been quite good in the US)
- Affordable broadband for local businesses and residents – especially in rural area
- Creating a market opportunity for a private business to serve local business needs
- Creating an opportunity for local government to provide broadband if/when a private industry don’t meet the need
It’s difficult to create policies that will lead to a successful solution that will meet the needs of every unique community. As I said, the report is detailed but it is a good look at what’s been decided in the past and how that has had an impact on what opportunities/barriers currently exist. The you can factor in changes that are emerging and will continue to emerge with the National Broadband Policy plans.