Stirring the Pot December 2013

As originally posted in the Blandin Foundation eNews

Congratulations to Danna MacKenzie, the director of Minnesota’s new Office of Broadband!  I know Danna will be getting lots of advice about the best strategies to move Minnesota forward – tax exemptions, financing programs, new regulations and other ideas. Here is mine!

I would encourage all of us, but especially Danna, to take a look back at a set of sound principles on which to base our way forward.  Danna is well-familiar with the Blandin Foundation Broadband principles – she helped to create them in 2006.  These principles were adopted by a stellar group of Minnesotans, including telecom providers, community representatives and elected officials.  These principles have stood the test of time.  Considered individually, each principle makes sense, but recognizing the interplay of these principles is essential.

  • Ubiquity – Meaning broadband availability for everyone, this is a cornerstone adopted by the first Minnesota Broadband Task Force chaired by Rick King of Thomson Reuters.
  • Symmetry – Both download and upload speeds should support content users and content creators.
  • Affordable – Services that are too expensive are essentially unavailable to many Minnesotans.
  • Competition – Drives innovation, customer service and affordability.
  • World Class – Broadband is the essential infrastructure of our time.
  • Collaboration – Sometimes too focused on public-private partnerships, we also need increased collaboration between private companies and within the public sector.
  • Neutrality – Neutrality does not mean not choosing technologies, it means being open to new technologies and collaborative models.
  • Interoperability – Networks and applications should operate easily across systems of health care, education and government.

From my perspective, I see Ubiquity, Affordable and World-Class as the cornerstones of these principles. Achieving all three of these will be a challenge!  Competition, Collaboration, Neutrality and Interoperability are supporting principles.  To achieve the cornerstone principles, Danna will have to lead the way to an environment where these supporting principles become the norm of our public and private sector entities.

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