Feb 1: Virtual News Conference on A Blueprint for Better Broadband in Nebraska

Feb 1: Virtual News Conference on A Blueprint for Better Broadband in Nebraska

VIRTUAL NEWS CONFERENCE with the Platte Institute

Attachment: PDF of A Blueprint for Better Broadband in Nebraska

Contact: Adam Weinberg
(402) 500-0209

New report: A Blueprint for Better Broadband in Nebraska
Former Telecommunications Committee Chair Jim Smith reviews broadband grants 

OMAHA, NE — The cost to deliver broadband internet to every home and business in Nebraska is conservatively estimated to be nearly $1.2 billion. But even with a historic level of federal and state funding, Nebraska policymakers may only have about half of that amount to work with.

Platte Institute Chief Strategy Officer Jim Smith, a former Nebraska state senator who once chaired the Transportation and Telecommunications Committee, will discuss how state leaders can make the most of the available funding through broadband grant programs and partnerships between internet service providers and state or local agencies.

Smith will host a virtual news conference on Tuesday, February 1 at 10:30 a.m. Central Time on Zoom. Registration is required here. The briefing coincides with the release of the Platte Institute report A Blueprint for Better Broadband in Nebraska, which is attached in PDF format and is now available at PlatteInstitute.org/Policy.  A recording of the news conference will be made available in a future release.

“The federal government is providing a historic opportunity to deploy high-speed internet in unserved and underserved areas of the state, but it’s also a one-time opportunity that demands efficient and effective use of funds,” Jim Smith said.

“Broadband grant programs at the state and local levels need safeguards to prevent duplication of efforts and government waste,” Smith said.

Recommendations from the report include:

  • The state of Nebraska should create a cabinet-level office for managing broadband programs and develop a framework for allocating broadband funding through the Nebraska Public Service Commission. The rules governing broadband deployment should minimize regulatory burdens and increase coordination between internet service providers and public entities.
  • Grant funding should be awarded on a technology-neutral basis, but preference should be given to technologies that are scalable, cost efficient over the long run, and meet minimum broadband speeds under federal requirements.
  • Internet service providers, state and federal regulators, and academic institutions must refine and increase the accuracy of broadband mapping tools and set clear standards to ensure government funds are prioritized to areas that are unserved or are most in need.
  • Broadband deployment should be a private-sector driven process in Nebraska, using private-public partnerships where necessary. But grant programs must prevent the abandonment of last-mile customers, whether a grant is designated for a private or public service provider.

For more information on this release, contact Adam Weinberg at (402) 500-0209 or aweinberg@platteinstitute.org

The Platte Institute advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. More media resources are available at PlatteInstitute.org/Media.

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