We are pleased to share examples of some emerging public-private partnerships that are making it easier for folks to adopt broadband in many of the MIRC communities (Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities). I say we but I really mean Bill Coleman who compiled the list; Bill and Karl Samp have been working with many of these communities.
The partnership has been built via the Stone Soup method. You’ll see one of the mainstay partners is PCs for People; they give computers to low income households. They brought the computers to the soup. Blandin brought coordination and local contacts. And again as you can see, various local providers have brought connectivity to those who might not be able to otherwise afford it.
I think it will be a recipe that grows lifelong broadband users. Because as these households use broadband they will be able to realize other savings – by paying bills online, by using Skype, perhaps by buying products at reduces rates (from eBay to popular half price online coupons), perhaps by selling items or services online. Broadband moves from an expense to a saving technique. And that doesn’t even touch the educational, healthcare and civic engagement doors that open with broadband.
It would be great to see more partnerships emerge.
Policymakers have been paying lip service to “public private partnership” for years now. In Minnesota it started with the Minnesota Ultra High-Speed Broadband Task Force Report in 2009, in their section about Policies and Actions Necessary to Achieve Ubiquitous Broadband…
Coordinate public and private activities that move the state toward ubiquitous broadband
Much of the remaining work of achieving ubiquitous broadband will be easier if it is coordinated. Providers and communities (either geographic or communities of interest e.g., local governments, local chambers of commerce) need to leverage opportunities created by each other’s projects. Businesses large and small will benefit from knowing where and when facilities will be added, or when they will become available. There is a real risk of slowing down progress and wasting private and public resources if these efforts aren’t coordinated.
At the Blandin Broadband conference that year, John Stanoch (then) President of Qwest in MN & ND and original Task Force member eloquently echoed the need for public-private partnerships.
The ARRA funding spurred partnerships as we’ve seen in communities such as Lac qui Parle, Windom and Lake Counties. Now some partnerships have worked better than others – and in some ways the allure of Federal funding was a game changer for these folks but it has brought us examples of successful partnerships. And now we’re seeing this new range of partnerships emerge with some of the MIRC areas.