Tag Archives: urban land institute

Policy initiatives maximise benefit of broadband trends

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

Progressive broadband policy rates an A, nimbys fail.

I was one of the speakers at this week’s Eastern Sierra Connect Regional Broadband Consortium annual forum in Bishop, California. My presentation built on a talk I gave earlier this year at the Urban Land Institute’s spring meeting in San Diego.

Then, I spoke about five broadband trends that are shaping communities: the growing value of conduit, the growth of competition at the local level, the role of local government in building middle mile facilities, the coming explosion in wireless capacity and the way broadband access is changing life and work styles.

It’s not enough to just identify trends, though. So this time, I went into more detail about policies and initiatives that local governments and groups have implemented to take maximum advantage of the benefits.

Top of the list is building a reliable, online inventory of available assets, particularly conduit. The City of Watsonville is saving more than a million dollars on a municipal dark fiber network because it knows where conduit has already been installed, leaving only connecting segments to be built.

Giving any interested utility or local agency the opportunity to put conduit in the ground anytime a street is cut into is another. Key to these efforts is engaging and empowering public works people – experience shows that when they take ownership of a broadband project, progress is quickly made.

On the wireless side, intelligent planning and judicious encouragement of wireless facilities will prepare cities for the predicted 1000X boom in capacity as we move towards a 5G world in the next decade. And agencies can lean in to connected, public transportation-centric lifestyles by moving more government functions and teleworkers online and opening up access to data .

Five broadband trends shaping communities

by Steve Blum • , , , ,

A good place to talk about water, land and technology.

I was asked to do a presentation on broadband trends at the Urban Land Institute’s spring meeting in San Diego today. Specifically, it was for one of the ULI’s community development councils, which is focused on planned community developers. I had to narrow the list down to five:

  • Conduit is gold. Cities and private developments can build a base for jobs and industry just by putting conduit in the ground whenever a trench is opened. And it’s a no brainer for greenfield developments.
  • Google wants to disrupt the telecoms business and, on the available evidence, it’s succeeding. By threatening incumbents with competition and raising consumer expectations, it’s shifting the conversation away from wireless spending and back to fiber optic investment.
  • Independent middle mile fiber optic infrastructure is the key to economic development for communities outside of core metropolitan areas. And not very far outside, either. Pulling a fiber a few dozen miles over the hill from Santa Clara has re-energized Santa Cruz’s economy.
  • Qualcomm’s assumption that mobile data traffic will grow one thousand times in the next few years is simple math. The next generation of mobile data technology will push small cell sites and connecting fiber closer and closer to users.
  • Connectivity brings you all the comforts of work, where ever you live. Telecommuting, co-working and wireless-equipped company commuter buses make it possible for people to live in the urban areas they love and work at suburban corporate campuses, or chill by the beach and email the job in.

No one builds new housing without planning for water, energy and transportation. My message was that broadband joined that list in the twenty-first century. In other words, now.