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White House Lines Up Broadband Playbook

If Gigabit Cities are a sign that individual community efforts can bring about significant broadband change, then the new Broadband Opportunity Council report presented to US President Barack Obama is a sign of the government's determination to take regional broadband successes and turn them into a template for the rest of America.

The report, which was just released to the public, is the result of a Presidential Memorandum issued by President Obama last March. In his memo, Obama tasked the newly formed Broadband Opportunity Council with providing recommendations on how "to identify and assess regulatory barriers and opportunities" related to the goal of expanding broadband deployment and adoption. He gave the Council 150 days to deliver its report, which had to include a prioritized list of recommended actions and a timeline for completing them.

The full report is now available online, but, in summary, the Council recommended that the government: modernize federal programs to include funding support options for broadband initiatives; use its federal agencies to develop tools for communities investing in broadband improvements; expand access to federal assets that could support further broadband development; and upgrade broadband research and data collection.

Throughout the report, certain themes are repeated frequently -- notably that there needs to be better sharing of information among US local, state and national governments, and that practices and policies that prove successful in one place should be replicated wherever possible.

For example, one recommendation suggests a one-stop government portal for broadband development resources including best practices and technical assistance for local governments and anchor institutions. Another calls for a community connectivity index promoting successful regional broadband programs and offering tools for assessing one's own community and creating a broadband improvement plan.

The report also specifically spotlights the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Mozilla Foundation to create "Living Labs" in several gigabit communities with the goal of creating the equivalent of a "smart city app store" that any community can use. (See White House Funding Seeds Smart Cities.)


The rollout of gigabit broadband access networks is spreading. Find out what's happening where in our dedicated Gigabit Cities content channel here on Light Reading.


Over and over in its report, the Broadband Opportunity Council returns to this idea of centralizing resources and creating a repository of solutions that communities can learn from and build on. In many ways, it's similar to what Google Fiber Inc. has already done in the private sector, but writ large.

Google is learning from early deployments and taking that knowledge to new cities to work with them and determine how to make them good candidates for fiber expansion. The company has argued that even in cities where it does not deploy its own gigabit service, the communities are left better off because of the preparatory work done that can still be useful for any future broadband plans. (See Gigabites: A Gigabit Battle in Tennessee.)

The federal government has an even bigger opportunity to promote this network effect. With effective coordination among agencies, it has the potential to multiply the impact of virtually any regionalized broadband innovations and make the lessons learned for attracting funding, leveraging assets and overcoming challenges available to all.

— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading

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Joe Stanganelli 9/23/2015 | 9:51:19 PM
Re: That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. > "What a suprise.  Obama asks a Govt organization for recomendations and their output is, more govt intervention, grow govt, and more govt spending."

LOL.  indeed.  Very reminiscent of the FTC's report on IoT at the beginning of this year that was dozens of pages of kvetching about the FTC needing more power to regulate despite already very broad powers to regulate.
Joe Stanganelli 9/23/2015 | 9:49:56 PM
Re: That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. >According to Free Market dogma, competition appears by parthenogenesis, and if it doesn't, the investment isn't worth doing.  And of course, government is always incompetent.

To be fair, the Internet has its origins dating back to the '60s with the US Government's ARPANET.  Had it not been for that government project, we would not have seen what we have today.

Perhaps the difference is that that project was not introduced by the government as a solution to a market problem, but for other purposes.
Joe Stanganelli 9/23/2015 | 9:48:01 PM
Re: That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. I'm really surprised that we haven't seen greater 4G adoption in these rural areas for this reason.  indeed, this is why nations like South Korea with poor landline infrastructure took so quickly and wholeheartedly to cell phones 15+ years ago to begin with.
Duh! 9/23/2015 | 10:46:14 AM
Re: That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. Some things just can't be reasoned with. According to Free Market dogma, competition appears by parthenogenesis, and if it doesn't, the investment isn't worth doing.  And of course, government is always incompetent.

I observe that community broadband initiatives are driven by folks who have general business and IT expertise, and sometimes electric utility experience.  Specialized business and technical expertise in broadband access (also ISP, video and VOIP) is usually lacking. These folks need general guidance, and often don't know where to look for it, or can't afford to buy it. I've watched them stumble through some of the same problems you and I and our customers were working on a decade ago.

The other thing they need is funding, and therefore also need guidance on the hoops they'll have to jump through to obtain it.
brooks7 9/22/2015 | 4:25:34 PM
Re: That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. Ignoring the political stuff....

Can you name a FTTH deployment anywhere on Planet Earth that does not have one of the following 2 drivers:

- Competition (examples: Verizon, NTT)

- Government Intervention (examples:  South Korea, Australia)

The problem is rural markets is there is little competition.  So if you want a rural buildout, then....

seven

 

 
Chase 9/22/2015 | 2:32:57 PM
That's a tired playbook. We need a new coach. What a suprise.  Obama asks a Govt organization for recomendations and their output is, more govt intervention, grow govt, and more govt spending.


Nice, after spending billions to bring broadband to no where, this is what we get in the second half. The rural LECs can't fathom how they can live up to the small print requirments (jobs) from taking this "free money" for broadband to no where.  Now let's do it to our local municipalities.



nasimson 9/22/2015 | 10:53:29 AM
Implications world over US Gigabit cities has implications not just for US, but for metropolis across the globe. The trends set here will be followed else where.
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