Broadband Communities

NOV-DEC 2013

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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Page 96 of 134

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT Federal investment in broadband access and adoption made a diference to communities' ability to be globally competitive. worked together – technology advocates, workforce, social service agencies and economic development professionals." –Danna MacKenzie, IT Director, Cook County, Minn. "Te families in our community will see benefts for many years to come as a result of everyone's hard work and dedication on this project." –Kristen Lee, Independent School District #381, Two Harbors, Minn. LESSONS LEARNED: 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. Efective 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. 90 6. Cross-community communication is key. Signage, local media support and aligned social media are efective, low-cost ways to spur and sustain energy and excitement for community projects. 7. Engage tomorrow's leaders today. Recognize and authentically engage the talents of young people. Tis generation of leaders brings energy and sustainability to any community initiative. 8. Connect the economic dots. Framing increased sustainable broadband use as a necessary but not sufcient ingredient in a wholesystems approach to strengthen community vitality can help communities see and leverage the connection between the technology and benefts to community life. 9. Have patience. Tis work takes time. Look for and celebrate early and easy wins, but think long term and build capacity and energy for the long haul. Money and other resources follow vision and commitment. CONCLUSIONS AND POLICY IMPLICATIONS • Broadband access alone is not enough. Without concerted, community-based eforts 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. • Community-based broadband literacy and market development eforts can and do help ensure that all Americans can participate fully in [the] nation's economy and civic and cultural life. | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | • 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. • Federal investment in broadband access and adoption made available to Minnesota through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act [has] made a signifcant positive diference to rural Minnesota communities' ability to be globally competitive and ensure a high quality of life for their residents. NTIA has been a very helpful partner in our eforts to bring to rural Minnesota communities the full benefts of the broadband-enabled economy. NTIA's Broadband Adoption Toolkit, released in May of this year, is an especially powerful tool for shining a light on best practices and making them available to community champions across the country. In sum, access to broadband is key: Evidence abounds that high-speed Internet access has economic benefts (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 signifcantly 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." Tis point was eloquently echoed in a recent edition of "Te Daily Yonder," published on the Web by the Center for Rural Strategies, a nonproft 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." v | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2013

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