Item 11 E. 1 on the agenda for the County Council meeting tonight is ” Review and Consideration of Approval of Council’s Draft Updated Strategic Leadership Plan for 2021.” Attachment A on that agenda item is a draft of the plan, and it includes a broadband priority area with the following text:
Improving access to high quality broadband.
Enabling reliable high-speed broadband service throughout the county by determining appropriate investments (e.g., conduct a community needs analysis, evaluate technical options).
That is the first action we suggested in our open letter. The next action we suggested is “Direct County staff to develop and maintain expert knowledge about broadband in the County.” While the parenthetical note in the description of the priority area seems consistent with our second action, the note does not propose the thorough analysis of the current status that we recommend. Neither does it propose the evaluation of organizational/business options that we recommend.
To find out how other communities have developed that kind of expertise, I sent email to Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self Reliance and Professor Susan Crawford at the Harvard Law School. Independently they both directed me to CTC Technology and Energy. I just sent email to Joanne Hovis at CTC asking for advice.
Professor Crawford gave me a link to the CTC study State of New Mexico Broadband Strategic Plan and Rural Broadband Assessment, and I skimmed it last night. I recommend Section 6 “Framework for
Broadband Public-Private Collaboration” which starts on page 100. It outlines the following three options: 1. Public-Private Collaboration; 2. Community Infrastructure and Outsourced ISP Operations; 3. Community Infrastructure and ISP Operations. I also recommend Section 3.3.3 of the report, “Wireless cost considerations” which starts on page 90. It confirms what others have said here about the advantages of fiber over wireless.
If there are other studies that we should link to, please let me know in the comments here.