Connected Nation are the folks who have been hired by the state to map broadband access and use in Minnesota to help the Ultra High Speed Broadband Task Force make recommendations on the future of broadband in Minnesota. They have recently been hired by telephone and cable industry associations in North Carolina to do a similar mapping project.
The strange thing in North Caroline is that they have a local, nonprofit organization that is also tracking this information – e-NC. Apparently e-NC had not been able to get the level of detail that Connected Nation can get. There was some talk about the State funding help from Connection Nation but that didn’t get very far.
It kind of brings to the fore some of the issues that have surrounded Connected Nation. They are able to get data to a very detailed level and that’s helpful. But they are in pretty tight with the incumbents so you have to wonder how or if that taints the data they get.
Unfortunately I think this is an ongoing issue with technology – any kind of technology. The quickest and (in the short term) the cheapest way to learn about technology is to ask the vendors – but of course the vendors have a vested interest in the info they provide.
I saw how well that worked in the last Broadband Task Force meeting. The incumbents spoke and it didn’t take long for folks in the room to wonder if there was a broadband issue at all. Next month the Task Force will hear from a different sector – and it will be interesting to see how the pendulum swings.
Back to Connected Nation – I don’t know what the answer is as far as getting and deciphering help from the incumbents. You can’t work without them – but how closely should the government work with them.