WASHINGTON, September 16, 2015 – State broadband entities and commissions continue to plan an important role in fostering economic development and digital learning, according to a recent report from the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy.
The report, “State-Level Broadband Policy: A Compendium of Resources and Approaches,” catalogs some of the important capabilities and tools of the federal technology program dubbed the State Broadband Initiative of the U.S. Department of Commerce.
But the report, by Pell Center Adjunct Fellow Angela Siefer, also advances the discussion about state-level broadband resources by highlighting more recently discussed tools, including eRate funding, telecommunications modernization legislation, and ways to promote local infrastructure partnerships.
Broadband “is not a matter of why or whether, it’s a question of how,” said Pell Center Executive Director Jill Ludes, speaking about Siefer’s report. “She’s written a thoughtful study that helps state-level policy makers think through their broadband policy choices while pointing to real examples from progress made.”
After briefing highlighted the important benefits of broadband — such as its positive impact on economic development, civic engagement, education, healthcare and public safety — the report focuses on “elements of good broadband policy.”
The first of these is a “dedicated office at the state level.” Whether as an independent agency or within another department, such entities can be “staffed with individuals who understand broadband issues [and] can be a powerful tool for creating connections and sharing information among state agencies, broadband service providers, and other stakeholders.”
Such entities were established by the State Broadband Initiative under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Although the federal mandate for data-collection by these agencies has ended, many states are continuing with these efforts through state funding.
The report also discusses the role of state broadband commissions, which are generally composed of a diverse membership and meet quarterly or bimonthly; of state-level legislation to modernize telecom statutes; and the role of directly funding broadband projects, or of leveraging existing infrastructure projects funded under the recovery act.
Equally significantly, the last quarter of the report highlights the important of broadband adoption and digital literacy training efforts, and the role that state projects and funding can play in continuing to support these efforts.
Drew Clark is the Chairman of the Broadband Breakfast Club. He tracks the development of Gigabit Networks, broadband usage, the universal service fund and wireless policy @BroadbandCensus. He is also Of Counsel with the firm of Best Best & Krieger LLP, with offices in California and Washington, DC. He works with cities, special districts and private companies on planning, financing and coordinating efforts of the many partners necessary to construct broadband infrastructure and deploy “Smart City” applications. You can find him on LinkedIN, Google+ and Twitter. The articles and posts on BroadbandBreakfast.com and affiliated social media are not legal advice or legal services, do not constitute the creation of an attorney-client privilege, and represent the views of their respective authors.