Saturday, December 08, 2007

More state-level broadband access initiatives predicted for 2008

The end of 2007 and the start of 2008 will see a shift in governmental attention to state-level broadband access and away from municipal Wi-Fi.

That's according to Craig Settles, a consultant to governments regarding mobile and wireless networks, who was inteviewed by's Richard Koman in this Yahoo News story:

"In rural areas and many small towns, providing access is something government should be involved in," he said, adding that, unlike with municipal Wi-Fi, residents probably don't necessarily expect it to be free.

Settles worked with local governments in rural North Carolina and Kentucky, where it was not economically feasible for the incumbent provider to come in. "In those outlying areas, they don't really have an option for technology and there's a greater need for people to be served by local or state government activity."

A key issue is how the build-out should be funded. States are providing grant money and seeking funds from federal homeland security and other programs. "The bottom line is that the vendor picks up a check," Settles said. "There can't be any of the silliness of how advertising will pay the bills."

Looking at 2008, "we'll see more state-driven initiatives for underserved areas," Settles said. Just as municipal Wi-Fi spread as cities started talking to each other, "a similar kind of dynamic will happen at the state level," he predicted, "but with a much more pragmatic and cautious approach than cities showed."

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