Private-Public Partnership

Earlier this month, Senator Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia announced $37.9 million in loans to help rural residents of his state connect to high speed internet.
The success of ConnectKentucky hasn't escaped our lawmakers in Washington, DC. The program is a combined effort of local government and the private sector to boost technology use in the Bluegrass State, with a focus on expanding high speed internet access.
Last month more than a hundred people gathered for the third annual Redwood Coast Broadband Forum in Northern California. The purpose was to discuss the current state of high speed internet access along the state's North Coast and ways to expand access to all residents.
Tennessee currently ranks 37th in high speed internet usage, due to limited availability leading to only one fourth of households subscribing to high speed service. Recently Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen announced the creation of a new non-profit organization tasked with improving high speed internet access for the residents of Tennessee.
If there's still any doubt that changes in public policy can have a huge impact on high speed internet access, just look at recent developments in Missouri.
Few regions of the United States are more spread out and have rougher terrain than Tuolumne County, California. Containing the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yosemite National Park, Tuolumne is not exactly tailor-made for high speed internet infrastructure.
In a sign that lawmakers are starting to develop national policies to support the buildout of affordable, high-speed internet access, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) is introducing the Connected Nation Act of 2007.
Vermont took another impressive step forward towards universal high-speed Internet this month. The state House has passed a bill that would create a new Vermont Telecommunications Authority to promote high-speed Internet access across the state.
Speed Matters blogger Laura Unger notes that North Carolina is taking a step in the right direction with its school broadband connectivity initiative. She also thinks that to have a program that focuses on the schools and does not address the lack of access to the home is faulty. "It is like buying great textbooks for every student and then not allowing them to take them home to study use for their homework; it's like have a great teacher but making the kids leave their notes in school."
Hempstead County, Arkansas, is the latest American rural community to take steps toward high speed internet access. The University of Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service has teamed up with Hempstead County for the pilot project of its new program -- Connected Communities for the 21st Century.