June 29, 2016
North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory released a plan last week calling for universal statewide broadband access by 2021 and 100 percent access in schools by 2018. Currently, 93 percent of residents have high-speed broadband access. Gov. McCrory said just 65 percent of schools do, however.
Absent from Gov. McCrory’s plan: an effort to expand government-owned broadband networks. Indeed the report says, “While certain cities around the country, including Wilson, are successful in providing affordable service to the public, studies suggest this model does not work for most municipalities.” Instead, the governor concentrates on “fostering and developing low-risk, high-reward models of deployment and service” like public-private partnerships.
The report discusses barriers to private entry into the broadband market. For example, it says, “Attaching to poles—typically owned by telephone and electric companies or municipalities—can cost anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000 depending on several factors. Pole owners typically charge an attachment fee anywhere between $0 and $160 per pole. Providers are also responsible for the ‘make-ready work’—the cost to properly prepare the pole. These costs include labor, equipment and moving existing infrastructure on the poles. Make-ready work fees vary widely depending on the pole owner and location.”
As such, Gov. McCrory suggested reducing regulatory barriers to entry. His options include easing access to state and municipality-owned right- of-ways, poles and vertical assets and creating “Dig Once” and “One Touch” policies to reduce the number of times the rights of ways (ROWs) are disrupted and allow the ROW owners to better manage encroachments and reduce permitting costs.
The governor also said cities should create programs to educate citizens about the benefits of broadband.
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