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Gigabit Cities Public-Private Initiatives: Four Case Studies
"Gigabit Cities" is a label encompassing efforts to at once energize technological innovation, stimulate economic development and centrally democratize super-high-speed Internet access, diffusing adoption of massively higher (and often synchronous) speeds on "gigabit" networks. Exactly how these goals are realized is now a major issue facing network operators, local and state governments, and users of broadband services.

There is no single blueprint for how a Gigabit Cities project should be built or how it should be financed and run. The case studies contained in this report offer a few examples illustrating elements of and issues in the specifically "public-private partnership" model for Gigabit Cities, one of three major structural approaches to the new networks. Rather than primarily dramatizing prominent examples or major successes, they show complexities and inherent problems at various stages of the process, including what can be viewed as examples of implicit partnerships, still-potential partnerships and failed partnerships.

Part of the concept of Gigabit Cities from the public perspective has been that under-served neighborhoods whether lower-income, minority or more mainstream middle-class will get better service, helping residents more fully participate in the increasingly technology-driven "knowledge economy," equalizing opportunity while increasing U.S. worker productivity.

For most public entities, money is tight and private investor partners alleviate political resistance while spreading the risk, most importantly providing the capital. For these reasons the public-private partnership concept intensely interests those promoting Gigabit Cities, though the model also partakes of some of the disadvantages of both public and private modalities, even while mitigating them.

Despite their complexities and potential for failure, private-public partnerships will continue to play a major role in the Gigabit Cities arena, spreading risk and ameliorating obstacles for both sectors. This report illustrates some of the problems and possibilities of public-private partnerships toward Gigabit Cities at multiple stages in the process.

When today's cities started their gigabit quests, there were only a few Gigabit Cities. By the time they actually are up and running, there will be quite a few more. With diffusion of the Gigabit Cities model, it will be a major issue to find a sustainable competitive advantage as higher and higher bandwidth levels become more widely established. In other words, while cities try to adopt Gigabit Cities to gain competitive advantage in economic development, that advantage inevitably becomes more elusive over time. And as more metropolitan centers increase their available bandwidth, what is required to be competitive increases, as is what is required to stand out with a unique competitive advantage.

Gigabit Cities Public-Private Initiatives: Four Case Studies presents four case studies of efforts at public-private partnerships for Gigabit Cities in U.S. cities and states. It discusses the concerns that led to proposals for partnership, how these were addressed in the context of public-private partnerships, and the projects' results at their various current stages, derived from documentation and recent interviews with nine representatives of cities and service providers of various kinds.
Sample research data from the report is shown in the excerpts below:
Table of Contents (hri0515_toc.pdf)
There is no single blueprint for how a Gigabit Cities project should be built or how it should be financed and run. The case studies contained in this report offer a few examples illustrating elements of and issues in the specifically "public-private partnership" model for Gigabit Cities, one of three major structural approaches to the new networks. Rather than primarily dramatizing prominent examples or major successes, they show complexities and inherent problems at various stages of the process, including what can be viewed as examples of implicit partnerships, still-potential partnerships and failed partnerships.
Companies discussed in this report include: Cascade Networks Inc.; Comporium Communications Inc.; DataShack LLC; and Gigabit Squared LLC (dissolved).
Total pages: 15
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