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.

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  • identicon
    Pjerky, 28 Apr 2009 @ 10:23pm

    Lack of local competition.

    With the lack of local competition for broadband in most parts of America I think that muni-fiber deployments would be very welcome in most communities. Not only could it create jobs if done right (for continuous maintenance and support), but it could also generate a little revenue for the city that sets it up and lower cost service in target areas of town could be used to draw businesses into areas that the city wants to develop more.

    It could also attract more residents. It could be used to build target communities, expand services in libraries, job agencies, community centers, churches, and support youth organizations. There are a lot of potential benefits for muni-fiber deployments. If nothing else the competition would require the big broadband companies to spend more money in the community to promote services and "better" offers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 29 Apr 2009 @ 4:38am

      Re: Lack of local competition.

      It isn't even surprising. A government puts together a service that the monopolistic market isn't willing to deliver, and whammo, they suddenly find out how profitable being a service provider is.

      Warren Buffet once described one of his great financial mistakes as not purchasing a cable company. Apparently once the infrastructure is built, your job is basically to cash check. How does TWC screw it up?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Adam_v1, 29 Apr 2009 @ 12:46pm

        Re: Re: Lack of local competition.

        You could say that TWC is not screwing it up as from what i heard the brought in a bit over 4 billion in revenue last year and it cost them about 150 million in maintenance of the network.

        Now i know that does not include things such as customer support and such but that shows that they have the sitting back and cashing checks part down correctly because they sure as hell are not putting it back into investing in the network.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Mike, 29 Apr 2009 @ 7:11pm

    Required by town/HOA?

    I didn't notice specific mention of whether residents were REQUIRED by the town/HOA to use the fiber service, or if the fiber service competed with other carriers. In my neighborhood, we have fiber via a contract between a local provider and the HOA, but all residents of the neighborhood MUST subscribe to the basic package (approx. $42/month), even if they don't use the service or own a computer. I wonder if the success of muni-fiber is tied to this missing detail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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