Counties Can Help Providers Enter Markets, Say County Leaders

County governments can coordinate with ISPs to connect their communities, panel hears.

Counties Can Help Providers Enter Markets, Say County Leaders
Photo of Johnathan West of Trilight, Brian O'Hara of NRECA, Sachin Gupta of Centranet Fiber, William Graves of MidSouth Electric Co-op, Doug Maglothin of Diamond State Networks (left to right)

HOUSTON, May 4, 2023 – Counties are uniquely situated to help internet service providers and builders enter a community, said county leaders and broadband providers in a Broadband Communities event Tuesday.

Counties are energized to bring broadband to the community, said Greg Puckett, Mercy County commissioner in West Virginia. They are the people on the ground who hear the complaints of the community members.

In one rural county, towns desperately needed broadband to keep their residents and remain a functioning town, added Doug Maglothin, CEO of network operator Diamond State Networks.

County governments know how to get public infrastructure done unlike cities and towns, added John Garamendi of Calaveras County, California. Counties are accustomed to authorizing, planning, and building large infrastructure programs and know how to navigate the problems associated, he said.

Americans were given a “gift” when the federal government acknowledged the power and understanding that counties have of their communities by directing states to allocate federal grant funds to localities, said Puckett.

Counties are “the one level we’ve identified… that has the ability to do all the necessary build out,” added David Kramer from provider Altafiber. Counties “have a view of what they want to do,” he said.

“We have to do more at a regional level, not just focus on states,” he urged.

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