MN Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators

It was my pleasure to participate on the keynote panel discussion this morning at the MN Association of Community Telecommunications Administrators. Milda Hedblom and I had the opportunity to talk about the importance of broadband in communities and strategies for improving broadband services. I always learn something when I listen to Milda and we had an active discussion on a range of topics with the audience. We talked about the need for regional and state discussions on promoting “big” broadband thus relieving each community from having to try and address the broadband issue themselves.

We talked about the fact that each community is unique in its mix of demographics, existing and prospective providers, community leadership and geography. Milda had four key points that communities need to consider as they move forward: 1) For what purposes do you want big broadband? 2) What are you doing to get community leaders and citizens on board with the initiative? 3) What are the financial considerations and limitations? 4) Are you prepared to deal with the incumbent providers?

I talked at length about Milda’s first point in my presentation. If community organizations and citizens are not prepared to step up and make use of big broadband through the adoption of new technology-based applications, the justification and future of the network is suspect. I made it clear that there are barriers to technology adoption other than broadband access, including fear, user knowledge, technical support, resources and regulations. Overcoming one or all of these considerations can be a significant effort.

It was great to renew some old acquaintances at the conference. In a changing technology world, these community organizations face a real challenge in ensuring that their communities are well-served and well-positioned for the future.

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