the new NBN

One wag’s version of fibre to the node

With Brisbane City Council investing heavily in a broadband strategy to bring Brsibane’s small businesses into the 21st century, “ready or not” it is woth considering the lessons learned in broadband implementation programs in the USA. While the Minnesota program described here was strikingly successful, the lessons learned indicate that you cannot simply give people fast broadband and wait for the results. The examples concern relatively small cities in the USA  1 million people and so are referred to as rural, but there are many characteristics in common with Brisbane.

A link to the full article is provided below.

KEY ELEMENTS OF SUCCESSFUL ADOPTION EFFORTS

1. Communities know best.

Involve citizens directly in articulating their community’s broadband adoption and utilization goals to catalyze long-term engagement needed to increase adoption.

2. Local leadership matters.

Help local broadband champions get and use skills to frame issues, build and sustain relationships and mobilize people to build a community’s capacity to achieve its broadband goals.

3. Broadband is not an end in itself.

It is a means to the higher ends of  increased economic vitality and improved quality of life. Framing it this way helps.

4. High-touch outreach works.

Effective recruitment strategies are intracommunity, hyperlocal and personalized. Change follows relationship lines.

5. Peers make great teachers.

Peer-based learning formats are popular, low-cost and easily sustainable tools to build a community’s technological savvy.

CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS

Broadband access alone is not enough.

Without concerted, community-based efforts to ensure that all citizens are able to take advantage of the Internet, the digital divide will continue to grow and to undermine America’s promise as a democracy where equal opportunity is available to all.

Educate and support

Community-based broadband literacy and market development efforts can and do help ensure that all Americans can participate fully in [the] nation’s economy and civic and cultural life. Eliminating the digital divide is an urgent challenge that must be part of [the] national agenda. States and communities need the federal government and its resources as a partner in this work.

Access to broadband is key:

Evidence abounds that high-speed Internet access has economic benefits (positive impact on median household income, employment and business growth). But so is adoption. According to the report “Broadband’s Contribution to Economic Health in Rural Areas: A Causal Analysis,” by B. Whitacre, S. Strover and R. Gallardo (March 26, 2013), “Non-metro counties with high levels of broadband adoption in 2010 had significantly higher growth in median household income between 2001 and 2010 compared to counties that had similar characteristics in the 1990s but were not as successful at adopting broadband.”

This point was eloquently echoed in a recent edition of ”The Daily Yonder,” published on the Web by the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonprofit media organization based in Whitesburg, Ky., and Knoxville, Tenn.: “While most government broadband policies have traditionally focused exclusively on providing infrastructure, there is a case to be made for focusing on demand. Investments in people, education and training are essential to achieve meaningful use of the lnternet.”

The full text of this article is available at http://www.bbpmag.com/2013mags/november/BBC_Nov13_BroadbandAdoption.pdf