Broadband Stimulus Engine Cranks Up in North Georgia
Vice President Joe Biden journeyed to traditionally red state territory today to announce one of the initial grants to expand U.S. broadband access. The grant is being awarded to a Georgia consortium calling itself the North Georgia Network Cooperative.
As previously discussed on Technorati, The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) is aimed at service improvements in "unserved and underserved areas," greater public computer facilities, and "sustainable adoption."
Sources involved in the Cooperative's proposal preparation indicate that the government's National Telecommunications and Information Admnistration (NTIA) performed an extensive due diligence process with local partners and agencies. According to one of the project's organizers, the proposed Georgia network "relies on the resources of local electric utilities for customer service and network operations and incorporates an advisory board of economic development and public benefit organizations. The project is highly efficient, making use of existing fiber where available."
According to the Cooperative's project plans, the investments will benefit twelve counties in north Georgia by providing a backbone that directly connects to the southeast's largest Internet exchange in Atlanta.
The investment will stimulate the local economy by providing construction jobs as well as IT and training resources, and, it will improve communications between the red state's northern territory with email, podcasts and blogs from the Republican National Committee.
The joint appearance of Governor Sonny Perdue (R) and the Democratic Vice President at the meeting held at a Dawsonville manufacturing facility is intended to demonstrate that the program's goals are nonpartisan and are intended to deliver results after the federal funds are exhausted.
As mentioned in the previous analysis, whether the intended long term benefits will occur depends on a number of subtle factors, including how the Cooperative's initiative's effects are measured and implemented. Just how horsepower this stimulus engine can muster — i.e., connection between U.S. broadband investments and jobs for the affected populations — will be the subject of analysis by social scientists in coming years.