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Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Check out the Czechs!

Interesting project in Czechoslovakia. ROWANet is a joint-funded regionally owned open network connecting public sector (local government, schools, hospitals etc) and non-profits, with the aim to bring connectivity to households in the future.

Once again though we see the problems when the state cannot directly provide connectivity to homes as this would be in direct competition to private companies. This project highlights an issue facing many publicly funded networks - State Aid rules.

Here in the UK, we have seen similar networks eg DurhamNet creating a great network with enormous capacity and potential unable to get into that first mile because of a lack of willing partners. Whilst schools, doctors, council offices and so on enjoy the benefits of faster access, the consumer (ie those who require the services offered by the public sector) is left with first generation connectivity, or worse, particularly in rural areas where distance from facilities and hence need for access is often far higher.

The main problem being that those who are in the final/first third are often seen to be 'unprofitable' or 'financially unviable' even where investment in the network connectivity has already been made eg in this instance by EU, local and national government. Hence, no partner comes forward willing to deal with that thorny and expensive problem - individual consumers!

What is required is some joined up thinking on this matter.

IF there is market failure ie there is no access to services by consumers of an equivalence to those being provided to our schools, doctors and so on over such a regional network, then it should be permissible and simple for the regional government to set up a local non-profit, community interest organisation to cater for that market failure. This would then
a) connect the people most requiring the services
b) create a non-commercial company able to return profits into the community using the network (eg for upgrades, maintenance, or as monies to be spent on diverse projects within that community)
c) make best use of the network funded with taxpayer's money
d)create long-term local employment
e) allow best practice models for community interest companies run on a regional level eg for billing, tech support and so on
f) bring ROI for the community



Graham said...

Should read 'Czech Republic'. I think the name Czechoslovakia went out of use quite some years back now.
A Friendly Pedant

GuyJ said...

Bring back the Bohemians I say :)