Friday, October 26, 2007

Local governments play critical role in ending digital divide

Illinois IT consultant Jim Carlini reports representatives of communities outside urban regions throughout the US who attended this month's Rural Telecon Conference in Springfield, Illinois are developing an increasing sense urgency as they continue to remain mired on the wrong side of the digital divide by the telco/cable duopoly. They realize they cannot count on the telcos and cable companies to build out their infrastructures to provide advanced telecommunications services like broadband and need alternatives.

Carlini suggests they turn to their local elected officials. "If your municipality isn’t looking at creative ways to develop new strategies that include having a state-of-the-art network infrastructure to support economic growth and development, they will be stagnating your property value and quality of life in your area," Carlini writes at

"Simply put, the three most important words in real estate (“location, location, location”) have turned into “location, location, connectivity” in urban, suburban and rural America. Corporate site selection committees have included broadband connectivity as one of the top three criteria they are looking for when researching locations for corporate facilities. If your community does not have a good platform for broadband connectivity, it will simply be passed over in favor for one that does."

El Dorado County, California, while located in the Sacramento metro area, is like many other areas of the country, plagued by spotty and inferior broadband access. County Economic Development Director Sam Driggers conveyed Carlini's point recently to the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors.

Your blogger agrees with Carlini that local governments must take a proactive role in ensuring their telecommunications infrastructures can support the current and future needs of their residents and businesses. In that spirit, I've drafted petitions to El Dorado County Board of Supervisors and the El Dorado Irrigation District urging those local government entities to partner with private fiber optic telecommunications providers to lay fiber in their rights of way to build a fiber to the neighborhood network as the foundation for a badly needed upgrade to the county's telecommunications infrastructure.

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