Choice for Localities – wait for broadband, or invest in your digital future
In presenting at the 2019 ISE EXPO in Fort Worth, Texas, we had a good discussion about the billions it will take to address unserved and underserved areas in the next five years. There were localities, cooperatives, and providers in attendance and we discussed how pivoting to a digital infrastructure approach pays for broadband investments.
Broadband is more than fast internet service – it is about having the digital infrastructure in place to enable your residents and businesses to stay and thrive – otherwise they will leave, or suffer decline. This is a decision that cannot be put-off, or pushed to the next group of elected officials – the longer it takes, the greater the losses to the local economy and quality of life.
An example of these types of economic losses and negative community impacts can be found in the Broadband Impact and Market Demand Assessment SNG conducted for Custer County, Colorado where without broadband 45% of households would relocate (20.7% Definitely and 24.7% Very Likely) and 18% of businesses would close down.
Choice for Localities
Localities, co-ops, and utilities have a choice to make:
– Wait until service providers see enough returns to justify investing
– Or, invest in digital infrastructure and transformation to connect people, economies, communities
Consequences of that choice are:
– Loss of jobs, businesses, population, GDP from lack of broadband
– Or, growth in digital assets and local capacity … retaining base and sovereignty
Localities need the expertise, resources, and commitment to see how they can get started with broadband and invest in their digital future. They need to start with answering the ‘why’ of broadband and digital infrastructure. The value from broadband and digital infrastructure comes from how it is used – driving utilization drives perceived value of technology. Plus, investments in digital infrastructure can pay for themselves
Additionally, States investing in broadband need to rethink 10 year broadband investment plans. Although they may be financially easier to budget, what localities can wait 5-10 years until they get the broadband they need? – businesses, youth, and those can leave will have left – they will have to leave to survive.