Coming together to break the digital divide

The key to breaking down the digital divide is cooperation--between the public and private sector, between citizens of different communities, and between local governments.

A terrific example of the latter is a joint effort by the state legislature leaders from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine to make sure that Verizon's proposed sale of 1.6 million land lines to FairPoint Communications won't leave New Englanders behind.

As the AP reported,

The House speakers and Senate presidents in all three states met yesterday to talk about how expanded broadband technology was essential to the region's economic growth. They say the discussions were prompted, in part, by the proposed sale of Verizon's Northern New England telecommunications network to FairPoint Communications.

The state leaders included Vermont House Speaker Gaye Symington, Vermont Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, New Hampshire House Speaker Terie Norelli, New Hampshire Senate President Sylvia Larsen, Maine House Speaker Glenn Cummings and Maine Senate President Beth Edmonds.

With an eye towards the FairPoint deal, they all agreed that any company acquiring publicly funded communications infrastructure in the region must be able to invest in modernizing the network and expanding its reach.

A press release issued jointly by the six legislators stated,

"We consider access to high-speed Internet services as crucial to the growth of our regional economy as rural electrification, railroads and interstate highways were to our nation’s economic growth at other critical periods of history. We want to make certain that whoever owns the network has the commitment and ability to deliver technologically-advanced broadband service from corner to corner throughout our three states, providing broadband access at the end of the dirt road as well as on Main Street."

Because of the power and influence of the telecommunications industry, it's absolutely essential that citizens and government leaders band together in this manner. That's the only way to spread the benefits of high speed internet to all Americans.

NNE legislative leaders back expanded high-speed Internet (Concord Monitor)

The point? It's not fair. (Speed Matters)

The Proposed FairPoint Purchase of Verizon's Properties Would Place Consumers, Workers, and Communities at Risk (Speed Matters)

Northern New England Lawmakers Issue Joint Statement