Reliable, high speed internet has become an essential right demanded by citizens across the country and around the world. It is no longer just a luxury supporting entertainment devices or the exclusive domain of IT companies. Internet service and the infrastructure that supports it has become a critical economic development tool, a reason for companies to locate or relocate. It is the backbone of the internet of things, providing the foundation for smart cities and smart industries. It enables autonomous vehicles and self-maintaining infrastructure, remote working and distance learning.
The debate over broadband infrastructure has moved on from whether governments should support it to how governments should support it. Communities have chosen a variety of models to ensure and improve access to high speed internet. The objectives also vary, from attempting to create gigabyte cities to attract the leading tech firms to ensuring high speed internet access for all, including low income and disadvantaged groups. Governments also seek reliable broadband networks for their own needs, from administration to emergency services and supporting new transportation infrastructure.
The US already offers many models for broadband infrastructure and service delivery, from Santa Monica’s publicly owned and operated network to New York City’s conversion of payphones to wireless hotspots to Kentucky’s recent statewide broadband P3 deal. There are other efforts in the works from Pennsylvania to San Francisco.
Other countries offer an even broader range of potential models. Estonia’s Digital Society supports online voting and has attracted more than 10,000 e-residents who can establish businesses remotely. In many ways, several African countries have leapfrogged developed country models and now lead in the new fields such as the use of mobile money. Satellites offer internet service to remote regions of the world.
These are the many topics that will be covered in the one-day Seminar on P3 for Broadband Infrastructure and Services.