Broadband as an Enabler of More Efficient Government Services

Video Summary:

An All-of-Community Approach

“One of the benefits of ubiquitous, affordable connectivity is that we can use it to improve citizens’ experience with government,” states Kathryn de Wit, Project Director of the Broadband Access Initiative for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Speaking at NTCA’s 2023 SRC Live, de Wit points to research from her Pew colleagues regarding improvements in the civil justice system, thanks to broadband and the forcing function of the pandemic. Their research, which emanates from Pew’s Civil Legal System Modernization program, indicates that broadband has made participation easier and increased satisfaction with the civil justice system.

Still, Pew found that to maximize the benefit of a broadband connection, there needs to be an associated development of technological tools that aid in process improvement. It requires evaluating the tools and processes with real users to understand their efficacy. Finally, it means applying the resulting feedback to make incremental process improvements.

Pew’s suggestions point to opportunities for NTCA members that already work closely with local government and civic institutions. That is, NTCA members are naturally close to members and often have programs to help their customers understand how to get the most from their broadband connection. They can serve as the bridge to bring customers and institutions together to help improve access to government services. In the case of Moncks Corner, South Carolina, and Home Telecom, this sort of partnership resulted in a bit of a miracle.

A collage of pictures depicting the Home Telecom Miracle League baseball field in Moncks Corner, South Carolina.
Home Telecom worked closely with the city of Moncks Corner, South Carolina to create a Miracle League field allowing people of all abilities to play baseball.
An image of Kanokla's summary of how they bring together the various external funding necessary to serve the extremely rural Cherokee and Medford, Oklahoma areas.
Part of a promotional piece by KanOkla asking for community support in their request for a RUS Community Connect Grant

Community support, both from local institutions and customers, will be important when applying for BEAD and other funding. As depicted so well in KanOkla’s promotional piece, shown above, it is the local ISPs that are at the center of successful rural broadband deployments.

Pew’s research indicates that state broadband offices recognize the critical role of rural ISPs in bringing broadband to underserved communities and regions. It is what de Wit terms an “all-of-community approach” that state broadband offices want to see. With their local roots, NTCA members are well positioned to be the providers that continue to bring service to broadband-deficient rural locales.

ViodiTV coverage of NTCA’s RTIME 2023 courtesy of Calix and NTCA.

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