Broadband Communities

MAR-APR 2014

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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MARCH/APRIL 2014 | | BROADBAND COMMUNITIES | 61 Wholesale Economic Development: FTTH and Fertile Ground To promote economic growth, communities must take actions that beneft a wide range of businesses. Upgrading broadband is a great example of such a wholesale strategy. By Rollie Cole / Fertile Ground for Startups, Small Firms and Nonprofts M y colleagues and I have identifed a way of looking at economic development activities that helps explain why fber to the home (FTTH) can be such a valuable aid to economic development. We call it the "fertile ground" approach to wholesale economic development. What do we mean by fertile ground? Tink about a garden or a park. A nicely designed, fourishing garden or park has plants of varying sizes and shapes, all alive and healthy and growing at the appropriate rates – perhaps with some careful trimming to keep them the appropriate size for the space. Having too many plants would be like having too much economic growth; having too few plants or sickly plants would be like having too little economic growth. Making the garden "nicely designed and fourishing" requires taking care of individual plants, especially the larger ones. It also requires fertile ground. Similarly, a community that wants all its frms – large, medium, and small – to thrive must provide a fertile ground for them. WHOLESALE VERSUS RETAIL To put it another way, many recommendations for local action in economic development call for retail action – that is, action on behalf of individual entrepreneurs or individual frms. Te recommendations include tax incentives (for example, forgiving property tax for a few years), training grants and help with fnding suitable sites. Such actions can be very efective. However, a healthy economy needs lots of small frms, just as a garden or park needs ground cover such as multiple blades of grass. Tough some communities do ofer help to individual small frms, most communities need so many small frms that helping a few of them does not improve the community very much. Wholesale action can beneft many frms at once and even many types of frms at once, just as fertilizing and watering help all types and sizes of plants in a park. Te economic development activities currently in use, and the ones we recommend in our book and elsewhere, spread across two diferent spectra. Te frst is the size of the frms that are helped, and the second is the number of frms that are helped at the same time. Figure 1 shows this view of the range of possible economic development activities. It also shows where we think broadband is applicable. ROBUST RESIDENTIAL BROADBAND Upgrading broadband, especially residential broadband (and preferably upgrading to FTTH), helps frms of all sizes and helps a large number of frms at once. One of the best resources in a community for small frms and rookie entrepreneurs is robust residential broadband. Upgrading residential broadband to promote business development seems paradoxical. Why ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT BBC_Mar14.indd 61 3/14/14 9:32 PM

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