Submitted by acohill on Wed, 04/30/2008 - 09:55
Graham Richards, the former Mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana, spoke at the Broadband Properties Summit about why Ft. Wayne pushed fiber to the home. Some of the services and benefits included:
A green affordable housing initiative cut monthly energy costs for lower income families, and the broadband network was used to monitor energy use.
The network enabled live video monitoring of latchkey children whose parents had to work. Parents could have high quality video chats with their children as soon as they arrived home in the afternoon.
Local schools were able to offer enhanced distance learning opportunities to their students, including afternoon and weekend mentoring with tutors (enabled by the fiber network).
Their vision was fiber everywhere: a community broadband network dedicated to equality of opportunity and universal access.
They began a pilot initiative to have the city use hybrid plug in vehicles to reduce fuel and transportation costs for city workers.
They set a goal of saving 5% of the city budget through IT/broadband and green strategies--helping to conserve taxpayers dollars.
While Richards was mayor, he was able to turn the economic growth of the city from a deep loss of jobs to a dramatic turnaround in jobs creation and new businesses, and he attributed it to setting a vision, sticking to it, and broadband.
Submitted by acohill on Thu, 02/17/2005 - 08:37
The Indiana bill that would have restricted the rights of communities to invest in telecom has died in committee.
The Internet is providing an alternate channel for citizens and community leaders to deal with these issues. In the past, bills like this often got passed into law quietly before anyone even knew about them. Today, most legislatures post proposed legislation on the Internet, open to all to see, and lots of people have the opportunity to review this stuff before it is too late. It's a useful counterbalance to lobbyists.
Submitted by acohill on Mon, 01/31/2005 - 08:42
Add Indiana to a growing list of states that have legislatures turning their backs on communities. Legislations is being considered there that would prohibit communities from providing telecom services.
Even though I think that communities ought to stay out of the service business and limit their investments to telecom infrastructure, I think that decision ought to be left to the community, and not be pre-empted by the state legislature.
This is a serious issue that is being co-opted by the incumbents, who are lobbying legislators vigorously. It's not that the legislators are necessarily bad people, it's just that they are only getting one side of the story, and are being unduly influenced.
The answer is education. Local communities and regions need to spend more time with their legislators explaining the issues, and in particular, explaining that there is more than one way for communities to invest. Taking the infrastructure only route is pro-competition, not anti-competition. Unfortunately, few lawmakers understand that. Only by preparing talking points and having local leaders take them out to lunch, or meeting them in their offices at the state capitol, is that situation likely to change.
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