02 May States need to be more "connectivity conscious"
Having a good infrastructure has always been important to the economic growth of a municipality as well as a state. The infrastructure has traditionally been viewed as transportation – rail, waterways, and air as well as highways, water, and power (electricity). Today, the definition of infrastructure must also include network infrastructure and the ability to have broadband connectivity to compete globally.
Just as you would not locate your company on some back road that is far away from the expressway, the airport, the train, and other infrastructure, you would not want to be connected to the information superhighway through some dial-up line or even DSL. You need something greater. Strategic decisions for locating businesses are influenced by the availability and quality of network infrastructure. Those that don’t understand this are living in the horse-and-buggy era.
Which states are poised for economic growth?
What are the current answers to the questions that were posed in a 2004 Survey of the California Public Utilities Commission that was concerned with the overall broadband policies and practices in the United States?
Have states moved forward from their positions in 2004 or have they actually slid backwards?
Some have limited or even restricted municipal deployment of broadband services since then, and I would conclude that this has been a step backwards in trying to create a positive environment for economic growth.
The California PUC survey had some excellent questions. The results of this survey provided a very quick and concise overview of what states were leaders and which were laggards in understanding the need to include a state-of-the-art network infrastructure as part of the platform for future economic growth.
This survey is something that ALL states should answer on an annual basis because the environment is changing rapidly as more states become aware of the need for broadband deployment for economic development.
From a corporate standpoint, reviewing the answers from this type of survey would definitely sway companies planning new facilities to locate in one state or another.
• Some of the questions that seem to be void of any state oversight were:
• Does the state set rates for broadband services?
• Does the state set broadband service quality?
• Does the state have expedited rights-of-way policies?
• Does the state have a definition for “advanced services”?
In the past, states would rely heavily on input from the incumbent carriers for their regulatory framework regarding telecommunications. Outside objective expertise was not sought out because of the cozy environments that regulators had with incumbents.
Today, we have to break away from that influence because it does not have the state’s best interest in mind, but it is not an easy task. In some cases, more lobbyists and pseudo-research firms have been used to promote the incumbents’ views and restrictions on municipal broadband endeavors. More restrictions have resulted and competition has been nullified.
Eroding tax base
Downsizing, outsourcing, and off-shoring in various corporations have contributed to substantial shifts in some states’ tax base, which is why some states are in the red by billions of dollars. Some legislators are unaware of the problem or just do not want to recognize and tackle it.
Legislatures have not adjusted their spending programs or created some safeguards to redevelop or replace industries that are in decline or that have left the state. Relying on a horse-and-buggy taxing approach will not solve the issues created in the Information Age.
With banks, manufacturers, and financial-service institutions looking at mergers and buyouts, the changing of locations and the consolidation and closing of offices and data centers and other corporate facilities is a reality that can shift what was once a stable tax base.
No state or municipality can take for granted that they will always have an industry or key company that provided jobs, tax revenues, and a stable economy. They must create and foster an environment that provides a solid infrastructure, which in today’s economy includes a network infrastructure. If they do this, they will always attract and maintain a diverse pool of viable companies.
CARLINI-ISM: Those states that create and foster a positive platform for network infrastructure are going to capture businesses from the states that don’t.
Recent articles by James Carlini
• James Carlini: Mega-Metro Center may go beyond Chicago and Wisconsin
• James Carlini: Chicago-Milwaukee “mega-metro” infrastructure improvements are critical
• James Carlini: H-1B jobs: Where is the shortage of skilled workers?
• James Carlini: Proposed telecom bill would have “Katrina” impact
• James Carlini: Lack of connectivity is real estate’s hidden time bomb
• James Carlini: State video franchises vs. universal service: Grasping the total picture
This article previously appeared in MidwestBusiness.com, and was reprinted with its permission.
The opinions expressed herein or statements made in the above column are solely those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.
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