NGA: States Take Action to Expand Access to Broadband Communication

NGA Issue Brief Examines State Strategies for Promoting Broadband Deployment, Adoption

WASHINGTON—Broadband communication is transforming the way Americans use the Internet and creating the potential for significant economic benefits in communities nationwide. Recognizing this, states have employed a variety of strategies to promote broadband access and adoption, which are highlighted in a new issue brief from the NGA Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) titled State Efforts to Expand Broadband Access.

"Governors recognize the economic and social promise broadband holds, whether for helping businesses grow, increasing access to health care or enhancing public safety," said John Thomasian, director of the NGA Center. "That’s why states are playing a prominent role in helping the private sector expand broadband access."

Access to broadband communication can help foster economic development and enhance quality of life. For example, broadband availability can attract new businesses to an area, spurring job growth. Physicians can use broadband to remotely examine patients, helping eliminate geographic barriers to health care. In educational settings, instructors can use broadband to supplement traditional forms of learning with interactive lessons, educational gaming and video conferencing. And broadband also can be used to promote public safety by facilitating faster information sharing among jurisdictions.

Despite these benefits, many citizens, particularly in rural areas, still do not have access to broadband service.

States have used a variety of strategies to increase broadband access and adoption. Several, such as California, Hawaii and Maryland, have established public-private task forces to evaluate the current state of broadband deployment and identify policy changes needed to expand access and adoption.

A number of states, including Georgia, Missouri and Mississippi, use tax incentives directed at businesses and/or consumers to encourage broadband infrastructure development or broadband adoption. Meanwhile, other states, such as Vermont, have created dedicated funding to attract broadband service providers to the state and promote ubiquitous access across their communities.

In addition, states such as Tennessee have initiated efforts to map broadband availability to identify gaps in service coverage, and many states, such as Kentucky, have undertaken efforts to work directly with communities to encourage broadband adoption.

Broadband provides users with high-speed access to voice, video and data through a single network. This service may be delivered in a variety of ways, including via digital subscriber lines, cable modems, fiber optic cable, mobile or fixed wireless or satellite transmission.

For more information, visit http://www.nga.org/center/it.

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Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation’s governors and one of Washington, D.C.’s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices. For more information, go to www.nga.org. Contact: Christopher Cashman, 202-624-7787, Office of Communications