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[f2c] Gov. Douglas on covering Vermont

Tom Evslin is interviewing Jim Douglas, 1the governor of Vermont. He is turning Vermont into an e-state. Anywhere you open a laptop, you will be online. [Note: As always, I’m paraphrasing, missing stuff, getting things wrong…Also, no time to re-read before posting., Ulp.]

Gov. Douglas says he’s doing this for reasons of public safety, and to help the economy. It’s also important for travel and tourism. He says Americans recognize the importance of innovation, but elected political leaders have been “fairly slow to respond.” He asks: “How do we apply technology in ways that enable innovation?” They’re up to 87% broadband availability. The last 10% will be the hardest, but it’s vital, he says. “We can’t let anyone go unserved” as Vermont uses the Net for local services. The state will partner with private providers and invest in infrastructure (e.g., fiber optic). The last mile will be provided by private providers. [Bob Frankston in the on-screen chat objects that the state should worry about coverage more than about broadband, and that the private partnerships are mistake.]

Q: What kind of things have you thought of so your providers can stay up to date?
A: That’s vital. I’m not a techie. Let’s ask Tom Evslin, who’s on the tech advisory board…
A: (tom) The goal is 3M by 2010. The goal for 2013 is 20M symmetric [download and upload…yay!]

Q: What’s the role of spectrum in your broadband vision? Why aren’t the rural governors asking for spectrum reform? 95% of spectrum in VT is unused.

Q: who besides VT is working this way?
A: No one. [Chris Meyer, sitting next to me, points to the RI-WINS program for border-to-border coverage in Rhode Island.]

Q: Verizon has proposed selling its VT infrastructure to FairPoint, a tiny company.
A: We haven’t decided whether we’ll support this transaction.

Q: I’m with the American Library Ass’n. Libraries are the #1 provider of Net access in VT. What role did libraries play in your planning?
A: Libraries are important. We hope they’ll play an even bigger role. E.g., access the Oxford library.

Q: There are challenges connectings kids to the Internet in a school setting, largely because the adults are uncomfortable with it and worry that it’s out of control.
A: Parents should be parents. [paraphrase]

Q: How about if the municipality owns the backbone, with private financing. E.g., Burlington
A: There are lots of models that work.

Q: The key question is: Who’s going to own this? Will some business interest be able to put in a toll booth, and also decide when the tech gets upgraded in a given corridor? Gov’ts don’t biuld roads; they put out bids to build roads. How will the state decide when it’s time to upgrade?
A: I’m cautious fiscally.

[Micah Sifry, who is in the house, posts to the chat the Gov’s financial profile] [Tags: ]

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