Connecting state and local government leaders
Dedicated offices, planning and technical assistance and competitive grant programs are key components for effective broadband efforts, says The Pew Charitable Trusts.
There are a few steps that states can take to set themselves up for success with broadband expansion efforts, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts study.
One of the key ingredients for effective state broadband programs is the creation of dedicated broadband offices, which Pew describes as a centralized entity within state government that has a full-time focus on expanding high-speed internet access, including distributing funds and providing planning and capacity-building support to communities.
Planning and technical assistance for local and regional entities is the second key component Pew lists to expand broadband access. The report says strategic planning involves defining goals, cultivating stakeholder buy-in and identifying existing assets, while technical assistance consists mainly of network design, business planning and other functions.
The third key component Pew highlights as a pillar of effective state broadband is competitive grant programs. Competitive grant programs provide limited subsidies to internet service providers to extend service into rural and unserved areas and, when well designed, can correct the market failures that have left many people without access to high-speed, reliable internet, according to Pew.
The report goes into further detail to explain what well-designed competitive grant programs contribute to broadband efforts. Some of those contributions include:
- Alignments between community plans and applicants’ proposals to confirm that infrastructure projects meet local needs.
- Reduced costs of deployment in high-cost areas.
- Matching funds from the applicant and eligible partners, such as localities, to cover a certain percentage of the project’s cost.
Pew says together, these elements foster community engagement, enable effective stewardship of public funds, and ensure that state and local activities remain focused on achieving universal broadband access.
To see more details from Pew click here.
Brent Woodie is an associate editor at Route Fifty.