Originally posted on Blandin eNews...
A short time ago, I heard Andrew Cohill of Design Nine (www.designnine.com) describe the “broadband crisis” faced by communities poorly served with broadband. The intensity of the truth in that statement is illuminated as I listen to rural residents describe their daily broadband challenges caused by some variable combination of availability, price, reliability, data caps and other service limitations. Rural people of all ages, incomes and education levels are increasingly stymied as they try to live complete lives.
Many communities have high hopes on their in-process applications to the Border-to-Border Grant Program. We will soon know how many grant applicants will be chasing the available $20 million, most likely totaling many times more requests than dollars. While some communities with established provider partners have only to assemble the details of the application by September 30, other communities face the difficult task of securing a provider to be a real community partner. An application without an identified provider partner will not go far; taking all of the legal steps to become a public sector provider is even more daunting legal and political process.
As difficult as it is to find a partner, a community should still be very careful! I would want a provider partner that was committed to deploying technology that is affordably, not just technically, scalable to achieve the 2026 state broadband goal and beyond. I would want a commitment to achieve ubiquity in the project area and not leave some residents permanently un- or underserved. Finally, I would want a partner that I could trust to provide their best efforts without having to reach into the file to confirm and enforce legal agreements on a regular basis.
Good luck to all in the pursuit of better broadband! The future of your community is at stake.