How can government support community networks? Next Century Cities has some ideas

Next CenNext Century Cities is a bipartisan city-to-city collaborative of over 100 mayors and city leaders who are working to ensure fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access for their residents. Several Minnesota cities are members. Next Century Cities recently published a Policy Agenda to point folks who want to support community networks in the right direction.

It takes a look at practical – or at least actionable – ways different segments can support community networks:

  • Local government
  • State government
  • Federal Government
  • Philanthropy
  • Community

It was nice to see a few Minnesota efforts used as examples:

Looking at Dig Once Dakota County gets a nice nod…

Additional Example: In Minnesota, Dakota County has saved many millions of dollars to date by laying fiber as part of other capital projects and ensuring local governments work together in planning and executing projects in the rights-of-way. [http://www.ilsr.org/all-hands-on-deck-mn/]

Dakota County gets another nice nod for streamlining permitting and rights of way management…

Example: “One Stop Road Permit Shop” from Dakota County saves an estimated $400,000 annually for the county and partner municipalities. More importantly, it has greatly simplified the permitting process for the public and private sectors alike. [Podcast and transcript: http://www.muninetworks.org/content/dakota-county-fiber-richthanks-dig-once-approach-community-broadband-bits-podcast-117]

The State of Minnesota is recognized for the Minnesota Broadband Fund…

Additional Examples: Minnesota established its one time $20 million Border-to-Border Broadband Fund in 2014 [http://mn.gov/deed/programs-services/broadband/grant-program/]; Virginia Resources Authority (VRA) has some capacity to help rural communities expand Internet access: [http://www.ilsr.org/rule/2887-2/]

And establishing the Minnesota Broadband Task Force…

Example: Minnesota established an “Ultra High-Speed Broadband” task force in 2008. The group decided on official goals for broadband in the state by 2015, which has emboldened broadband expansion advocates to demand better policies because the state has not achieved its goals. A key lesson was the importance of the Task Force traveling around the state to have local hearings, giving residents, businesses, and organizations an opportunity to speak. [Final report: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/2009/11/documents/Final-BB-Report.pdf]

Blandin is recognized for their support of feasibility studies.

And Monticello is used an example of what can happen without federal support for market competition…

Example: After the city of Monticello, Minnesota, built a municipal fiber network to improve Internet access in the community, Charter lowered its rates well below its own cost to drive out the new competition. [http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/03/predator-or-prey-charter-cuts-internet-pricesto-compete-with-city-owned-network/]

This entry was posted in Community Networks, FTTH, MN, Policy by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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