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Facebook and Google Are Also Participants in Broadband Public-Private Partnerships

Jericho Casper

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Screenshot of Michelle Kohler, business development manager at Facebook, during the CLIC presentation

September 23, 2020 — Localities, states, and companies are embracing broadband partnerships through public and private entities that work together in mutually beneficial ways to overcome broadband gaps.

To these public and private partnerships, the Coalition for Local Internet Choice hosted a three-part “super session” at Broadband Communities’ 2020 Virtual Summit.

Moderated by broadband attorney Jim Baller, who is president of CLIC, panelists during the Tuesday sessions detailed their experiences and challenges.

“Cities are good at building infrastructure, permitting, and navigating rights-of-way,” said David Finn, director of corporate development at Google Fiber. “The private sector is good at logistics, like marketing,” he continued, saying that public-private partnerships “bring the best of both together.”

Finn discussed Google Fiber’s partnership with the city of Des Moines, Iowa, where the company is building an open access conduit fiber-to-the-premise network.

“We are putting fiber in the ground, which other parties can lease,” detailed Finn. Urging other municipalities to follow Des Moines lead, Finn said he believes “this is a model that would work for all.”

Michelle Kohler, business development manager at Facebook, voiced her experience leading partnership initiatives between Facebook and thirteen different states. Facebook’s Network Investment Team aims to build thirteen fiber “production networks” in thirteen states, to support data centers and facilitate app development.

Kohler said that 1,300 miles of fiber were already under construction, and that the builds are currently occurring in areas that lack fiber infrastructure or lack network capacity necessary for the future, in regions of Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia.

Panelists throughout the sessions maintained that municipality cooperation and eagerness is key to successful partnerships, and one of the main things private funders consider when deciding which public entities to partner with.

Monica Webb, director of market development at Ting, reminded that while public cooperation is critical, partnerships are two-way streets. Webb said that private entities must prove themselves to the municipalities they aim to work with, just as much as municipalities must demonstrate they are enthusiastic to collaborate

 

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