Elements of Good State-Level Broadband Policy

The Pell Center recently published a new report on State-Level Broadband Policy. The first half of the report makes the case that broadband is worth state support and policies. The second half reads like a checklist of what a state ought to have in place or at least consider to support better broadband.

Here’s the direction from the report..

This report offers state-level decision-makers and stakeholders an overview of how broadband policy can promote the public good, and why it is so critical. While many actions and decisions regarding broadband are inherently local, the state has an important role in supporting those local solutions. The infrastructure to provide broadband access—including wired and wireless networks—is created to serve particular localities. Likewise, steps to ensure that there is widespread access to this infrastructure—that is to say policies related to public access, home broadband access, training, and support—must be tailored to the needs of the community. State-level decisions can play an important role in determining whether such local efforts succeed or fail.

And the Elements of a Good Broadband Policy

  • Dedicated Office at the State Level
  • State Broadband Commissions
  • Telecom Modernization Bills
  • Broadband Data Collection and Mapping
  • Defining Broadband, Underserved, and Unserved
  • Direct Funding of Broadband Development
  • Leveraging Previous Infrastructure Investments
  • Helping Educational Institutions Access Federal (E-Rate) Funding
  • Expanding “Research and Education Networks”
  • Promoting Local Partnerships
  • Support for Local Broadband Planning
  • Updating Broadband Procurement Contracts
  • Making the Most of Federal Public Safety Funds
  • Increasing Broadband Adoption
  • Increasing Digital Literacy
  • Creating Increased Online Access to the Public Sector

It was nice to see Minnesota get a nod for being one of six states that have funded broadband development…

One proactive method for states to increase broadband access and affordability is to directly fund deployment in areas that lack broadband access or affordable broadband choices. There are many reasons to prioritize funding for broadband development, but the most universally compelling of these is economic development. According to Matt Schmit, Minnesota State Senator, “Broadband is a priority for the state’s business community, which sees high-speed Internet as key to economic competitiveness.” In one funding approach, a handful of states have set aside funding specifically for library broadband infrastructure and/or service.

For example, the Minnesota governor’s Task Force on Broadband recommended allocating $100 million for broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas. Through bipartisan discussions, outreach to constituents via listening tours, and meetings with local newspaper editorial boards, the Border to Border Broadband Fund passed in May 2014 with a one-time allocation of $20 million.

This entry was posted in MN, Policy, Research 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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