BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: This piece by our friend and colleague Craig Settles addresses several issues about co-ops, broadband, and rural economic development being addressed at the Broadband Communities Summit this week in Austin, Texas. Both Craig Settles, the author of this piece, and Tim Marema, the editor of DailyYonder.com, participated in the Rural Telecommunications Congress program from Tuesday to Thursday. Additional sessions at the conference on Thursday will continue the discussion about electric cooperatives and their role in the rural broadband landscape.
Are State Legislatures Wising Up About Broadband Co-ops?, from Daily Yonder:
State legislatures are inadvertently contributing to a fast-growing trend that’s leading to better broadband: co-ops partnering with municipalities and counties.
In North Carolina, H 431 (the FIBER NC Act) would reduce barriers for local governments to invest in publicly owned broadband infrastructure and work with private-sector partners. The state currently has one of the most draconian restrictions on municipalities’ ability to build these networks.
Community broadband activists say the North Carolina bills represent a potential tipping point.
“Their bill is an attempt to loosen the tight grip of vested internet providers over the state’s rural future,” says Rebecca Levings, an activist in Tennessee. “It will free up municipal providers to partner with private and other public providers. If it passes, we probably will see this momentum spread to Tennessee,” which currently restricts those types of public involvement.
The legislature is also addressing barriers to co-ops building and operating broadband networks.
(Photo via Botetourt County Economic Development Facebook page.)