Sunday, January 11, 2009

Minnesota muni fiber project prime example of where broadband infrastructure stimulus funding should go

Blandin on Broadband tipped me to this municipal fiber project whose $18.5 million bond financing goes before North St. Paul, Minnesota voters next month.

It's a prime example of where the new Congress and the incoming Obama administration should be directing economic stimulus infrastructure funding. Federal funding would help reduce the financial risk of these municipal fiber projects by helping them cover their start up costs sooner while creating badly needed jobs and stimulating electronic commerce.

North St. Paul City Manager Wally Wysopal has the right idea in suggesting this isn't simply about filling in broadband black holes but instead is putting in place vital telecommunications infrastructure that can meet the city's needs going into the future. This approach is far superior to simply playing catch up by wasting stimulus funding on rolling out increasingly obsolete copper cable-based DSL that should have been more widely deployed years ago under the incentives and tax breaks of the 1996 federal Telecommunications Act.

"The idea here is to become the best-connected small town in Minnesota," Wysopal told the Pioneer Press. "We're not getting into this for the sake of providing lower rates for cable or telephone but to provide a service that's superior to anything that's being contemplated today."

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