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72 | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | www.broadbandcommunities.com | MAY/JUNE 2016 BROADBAND POLICY Fifty States of Broadband A state-by-state study of broadband investment and activity reveals enormous variation in state broadband policies and outcomes. By Doug Adams and Michael Curri / Strategic Networks Group S trategic Networks Group (SNG), in partnership with the Rural Telecommunications Congress (RTC) and with support from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), surveyed the current state of broadband activity and investment in all 50 U.S. states. During February and March, 2016, 48 states responded to an online survey about broadband availability, adoption, meaningful use, investment and regulation. Rhode Island and New Jersey chose not to participate. Responses were used to rank states on these dimensions and develop a composite overall ranking. STATE BROADBAND OFFICES Twenty-fve states reported that they had a broadband ofce. State broadband ofces averaged 3.8 employees with a median of 3 employees. Tese ofces have often been located in state information technology departments, but more and more often, they are located in economic development departments or governors' ofces. However, only 28 percent said their states defnitely had a budget to support broadband initiatives. Tirty percent were unsure, and 42 percent said funding defnitely did not exist. Tirteen states reported their budgets; with the exception of California ($330 million) and New York ($500 million), these budgets were modest. Te average funding for the 11 other states was $596,000 a year. When there was funding, broadband activities most often funded were planning and support (82 percent). Infrastructure was funded by 45 percent of states that had broadband budgets. For states that had broadband budgets, SNG asked the three main funding sources. Answers are shown in Table 1. Some states undertake broadband initiatives through agencies other than a broadband ofce. When SNG asked whether any state entity was handling specifc broadband activities, states reported activities centered on increasing broadband supply through mapping, infrastructure planning and construction. Tese activities far surpassed demand-side undertakings, such as raising awareness, training and driving end-user utilization. Every state surveyed mapped broadband availability in either 2014 or 2015, using data from service providers and/or the FCC. However, only about half the states measured broadband utilization (that is, how internet applications are being used by individual businesses, organizations and households to drive economic growth and improve quality of life). States tended to fund activities that increased the supply of broadband rather than activities that increased the demand for or use of broadband.