Broadband Is Important For Economic Development, But It's Not The Only Thing
from the build-it-and-they-will-come? dept
While we're seeing yet another battle over muni-fiber deployments, it's worth checking in on the question of whether or not these programs work. We've certainly seen in the past how such muni-fiber deployments can significantly aid in economic growth, but it's not a panacea. Muni-wireless connections have been a disaster, but that's mainly because cities bet on the absolute wrong technology (WiFi) which isn't designed for wide-area deployments. However, when it comes to fiber deployments, the results have tended to be much better, increasing opportunities and often recruiting new employers that have increased jobs. However, as Broadband Reports points out, muni-fiber alone is not enough. The Washington Post compares two cities that installed muni-fiber and had very different results. In one, the jobs came, but it also involved setting up other efforts to lure companies to move offices to their city. As one commenter noted, it worked where city planners "took a holistic view of its workforce with support programs, and they see it as a long process." So, yes, muni-fiber projects can work and contribute to economic development, but it's a lot more than a "build and they will come" sort of project.