Gigabit Cities

Public-Private Partnerships & the Gigabit City

In the effort to build so-called Gigabit Cities that more widely diffuse very-high-broadband access speeds across US metropolitan areas, public-private partnerships will play an important and growing role, spreading risk and clearing obstacles for both public and private partners. The newest Heavy Reading Insider, "Gigabit Cities Public-Private Initiatives: Four Case Studies," offers a view of such partnerships in developing Gigabit Cities, illustrating some of the problems and potentials of these arrangements at various stages.

Public-private partnerships particularly are known for at once getting around widespread political opposition to purely public investments and fears of unprofitability that shadow large-scale private investment in bandwidth levels that few if any actual customers seem to need. Since the value of gigabit networks as an economic development tool seems to some extent proportional to the breadth and depth of public awareness of them, joint promotion by both public and private sectors, as well as the publicity that often attends these relationships, can be additional benefits.

For the latest on urban network innovation, visit Light Reading's dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel. And be sure to register to attend Light Reading's Gigabit Cities Live event on May 13-14 in Atlanta.

In North Kansas City, Minn., next door to the country's most famed Gigabit Cities model -- that belonging to Google, which declined to include North Kansas City in its Kansas City project -- a longstanding municipally owned network gave operational responsibility and an equal share in profits (and losses) to a private local partner to lose its own longstanding network deficit, increase network bandwidth and win free gigabit service for residents and city institutions.

In Rock Hill, S.C., an incumbent telco is establishing a gigabit network as its own part in a larger overarching public-private partnership to establish the former textile manufacturing town as a center of high-technology innovation.

In Seattle, failure of a prominent public-private partnership well illustrated the difficulties that public officials have in assessing the capabilities and trustworthiness of their private partners -- a major apparent drawback inherent in these arrangements.

In the state of Connecticut, a consumer-oriented state agency and a group of town governments are preparing for talks with a private investor to form new partnerships with an apparent long-term goal to be the first "Gigabit State."

— Steve Koppman, Contributing Analyst, Heavy Reading Insider

Gigabit Cities Public-Private Initiatives: Four Case Studies, a 15-page report, is available as part of an annual subscription (12 monthly issues) to Heavy Reading Insider, priced at $1,995. This report is available for $900. To subscribe, please visit: www.heavyreading.com/insider.

kq4ym 5/4/2015 | 3:01:47 PM
Re: History lesson I've always been skeptical of the partnerships as it seems at least in our area the public sector eventually has given up more than it gets in return. Theoretically, " spreading risk and clearing obstacles for both public and private partners" would seem to be ideal, but the private sector generally, having the expertise and inside information, can gain the advantage over the public end of the deal.
danielcawrey 5/2/2015 | 1:57:53 AM
Re: History lesson One of the reasons pubic-private partnerships have a bad rep is because the media often portrays these synergistic endeavors as bad. You always see the highlight of projects gone awry, there's never enough of a spotlight on the ones that acutally work out well for consumers. 
Mitch Wagner 5/1/2015 | 5:55:17 PM
History lesson Historically, pubic-private partnerships have been viewed with suspicion on the US. It will be interesting to see how this kind of partnership weathers the current political climate. 
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