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Leaping the Digital Divide: Encouraging Policies and Partnerships to Improve Broadband Access Across North CarolinaAuthors: Erin Wynia, NCLM Legislative Counsel and Joanne Hovis, President of CTC Technology & Energy The article that follows is pulled from excerpts of a policy paper initiated, published and co-authored by the N.C. League of Municipalities (NCLM) as part of an effort to encourage statewide policy that better enables public-private partnerships for broadband access. NCLM views this effort as crucial to ensuring that all North Carolinians have the 21st century infrastructure they need to thrive economically and to make their communities attractive places to live and work. You can find the full report, with a range of pullout information and a foreword from Brookings Institution Fellow Blair Levin, at www.nclm.org/broadband. The Case for Government Involvement in Broadband One of the primary functions of government is to build the infrastructure networks people need to sustain their lives and livelihoods. Today, high-speed broadband joins transportation, electric, water, and natural gas networks as a component of basic infrastructure services that Americans expect to be provided. High-speed internet service is the number-one amenity sought by multi-family residents, and the number-two amenity for single-family residents, according to a recent study. Local governments, in particular, can and should play a role in creating the infrastructure networks to provide this service, which are often too costly for private sector entities to build solely on their own. Traditionally, when considering infrastructure networks that widely benefit the public, governments step up to build assets with a long lifespan. Whether it’s a street network, electric grid, natural gas system, or drinking water treatment, all of these long-term investments are made with a goal of giving communities an edge:... read more
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