Search This Blog

Friday, 18 December 2009

US broadband stimulus grants announced

Today, the US Federal Govt began to announce the winners of the stimulus grants. "It's in America, not here, it's not relevant." I was told this today and nearly choked on my Red Bush tea. Let's start the panto season right here...oh yes, it is....

Whilst, on a geographic scale, the US projects may seem somewhat out of our league, as is the pot of gold, the problems faced are similar. Huge swathes of both rural and urban America who have little or nothing from their local 'incumbent' in the way of next generation access, or in some cases, first generation broadband. Incumbents and telcos dragging their heels in taking the investment plunge. Even though it is easy to see where the money will come from overall, it might not land in their coffers. Reluctance to do *anything* for the good of a wider community than their Board or shareholders. Sound familiar?

US communities are being given really amazing opportunities to put together astounding projects that will be ahead of the UK in climbing the learning 'mountain' of NGA - both middle and first mile. Not only that but there are lessons to be learnt by the UK in the process used to share out public monies.

For me, though the story that will probably prove most interesting, and may only ever be weeded out with difficulty over time, is how those communities who get overlooked (much like with our own National Lottery funding) resolve the problems for their communities. The disappointment will no doubt be tangible within communities who are banking on getting NGA soon. There may be a silver lining though....I'd love to lay a bet that although they will struggle to achieve what is required on several broken shoestrings, the lessons learnt by such communities will be 100 times more valuable to society than those who get the handouts. As long as they are heard.

I suspect it is those communities who will be the ones that many UK rural communities will need to look to for solutions. Because let's face it, £175M max each year is not going to solve the problems in rural Britain before those communities in the US who have missed out this time will have sought solutions. I don't see rural America sitting on its heels and not finding routes to deploy FTTH etc, with or without a State handout.

Any US community who misses out on the Broadband Stimulus grants, please get in touch. The rest will be written about, promoted, lauded etc and it will be far easier to track their progress. But those who have to be ingenious may well find better routes to the local market, more sustainable solutions, and benefit from those who dive in and make the inevitable mistakes. Save us re-inventing the wheel, if you can, please!! And good luck to all.

1 comment:

MB94128 said...

Some U.S. Community Fiber links :
LUS Blog (Lafayette, LA)

Save North Carolina Broadband blog (Wilson, NC)
StopTheCap blog article on Wilson, NC [23 Apr.'09]

The city of Palo Also, host to Stanford University, has a fiber backbone. But the public-private partnerships to expand their network to non-trial FTTH have been floundering.
iPaloAlto site (Palo Alto, Calif.)
WiFi Net News article [5 Feb.'05]