What’s Next…

Larry Strickling, NTIA

The Honorable Lawrence E. Strickling, Assistant Secretary of Commerce, Administrator, National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) gave the keynote address at the Broadband Summit, he summed up the U.S. governments « what’s next » in 5 steps…

1) Remain dedicated to make sure grantees complete projects on time and on budget.

2) Finding opportunities to expand projects where build savings can be leveraged.

3) Conduct a multi-year evaluation program in place to measure ROI and inform future decisions

4) Use the recently passed legislation to enact a national public safety broadband network to help reach even more rural areas with broadband

5) Upon completion of grants, deploy the NTIA team to drive access in America.

James Salter, AEG

Chairman of Atlantic Engineering Group (AEG), James Salter was extremely entertaining as he looked both backward and forward.

Salter had both praise and criticism for the stimulus program. Kudos for recognizing that rural broadband is “basic infrastructure” and concern for the amount of time it has taken to get things approved and moving – a natural problem given the resources available to administer this massive task.

So the question he examined was – now what… when it comes to rural broadband?

Salter compares the need for further government involvement and investment, much like we saw in the 1930’s, driving electricity to homes everywhere.

And he sees the capacity to fund only one network in rural America – it does not matter who does it. His argument was that it is not profitable or possible to have more than one carrier survive in a competitive environment. The pure math is that there is not a big enough pie for carriers to be fighting over customers – and whatever network provides “triple play” services (TV, broadband and phone) also needs to be robust enough to serve all of the community’s broadband needs.

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