According to a recent report from TechNet, Utah ranks #9 of all states in the “2012 State Broadband Index“. The Index rates the states on indicators of broadband adoption, network quality, and economic structure. Of note, Utah ranked #3 in the West, just behind Washington (#1) and California (#5) and was the only Rocky Mountain state to receive a top ten ranking. Performing better than expected, TechNet characterized Utah as an “overachiever”.
The Report presents six insightful case studies, including Utah.
- California, #5, has succeeded through the creation of the California Advanced Services Fund, which is purposed to serve unserved and underserved areas. As an early adopter of tech-promoting policies, The California Public Utilities Commission also created the California Emerging Technology Fund in 2005 to promote broadband deployment and adoption.
- Maine, #40, created the ConnectME Authority in 2006, which collects annual fees from all communications service providers to provide grants to bring broadband to unserved areas.
- Utah, #9, has the highest adoption rate in the U.S. and also ranks well above average for fiber to the home connections. The Report cites public-private partnerships created through the Utah Education Network, conduit deployment policies of Utah Department of Transportation beginning with the 2002 Olympics, and the emerging Utah Telehealth Network as reasons for Utah’s progressive broadband climate.
- Massachusetts, #2, was also included for their State’s use of public-private partnerships and high concentration of academia and high-tech businesses. The Massachusetts Broadband Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, formed in 2008, works to expand broadband access and adoption among residents and businesses through the MassBroadband 123 network project and broadband adoption initiatives.
- Missouri, #32, has recently created the Rural High Speed Internet Access Task Force to address issues related to Missouri’s low rural broadband access and adoption rates. In 2009 Missouri’s Governor founded the MOBroadbandNow initiative, which has set a goal to deliver broadband to 95% of residents by the end of 2014.
- Ohio, #39, was a leader in early efforts to promote broadband access through the Ohio Broadband Council. However, in 2010, the Council expired at the end of the then-Governor’s term. Since then, Ohio has thrived in establishing meaningful partnerships to reintroduce efforts to expand broadband through non-profit entities such as OneCommunity.
The Report also calls out four specific, promising state-level approaches for fostering an environment where broadband can contribute to states’ development:
- Executive and Legislative Leadership
- State Funding