The transportation highways have now become closely integrated with the information highways as commerce throughways.  Broadband can be merely defined as the bandwidth and speed to facilitate the Internet and the convergence of voice, data, video, and mobility needs as per the requirements of the community’s residents, businesses, associations and institutions.

Currently there are significant disputes between the private and public sectors over community owned networks to  facilitate a community’s broadband needs.  It is as though people can’t think outside of the box, let alone act outside of it, or for that matter, even see outside of it, for a resolution that is so obvious.  By establishing a Community Development Cooperative made up of the community’s residents, businesses, associations and institutions, and subsequently establishing an enterprise, either profit or non-profit, controlled by the cooperative an open access broadband network could be created to facilitate competition, and most importantly form a private/public partnership thereby circumventing private versus public sector contention.

There are four fundamental aspects to community empowerment: Funding, Applications, Infrastructure, and Methodology which I refer to as FAIM.  Most of this website is dedicated to a methodology in empowering a community with its own resources.  You can find more information on all four of these aspects on my LindedIn Group, “Rural and Remote Community Broadband”, . 

 In particular, broadband is of course part of the infrastructure but there are three key aspects: the backhaul, the back office, and the network.  The network from a community perspective should be an open access network to facilitate competition by allowing incumbents and other service providers access to the infrastructure based perhaps on franchise fees.  In addition, under the proposed private/public partnership through a co-operative endeavor community WiFi can be readily established to facilitate community access to the Internet.  Local residents, businesses, associations and institutions could have free access through co-operative membership.  Whereas non-local participants, such as tourists or visitors to the community, may have only free access to local information through a community walled garden hosted on the back office solution and be charged for access to the Internet outside of the community.  This fosters local business.  This same walled garden would not only be used for local information: classified ads, events, local news, etc. but also for advertisers and thereby creating a community opportunity for a virtual catalogue store, that is, big box stores without the big boxes.

The same network could be used not just for the Internet, but could be used for meter reading, surveillance monitoring and other public saftey communications.

Recently I sent an e-mail out to an individual stating “I can’t think of a better way for democracy to flourish other than under the influence and control of the people through community foundations and cooperatives.

Unfortunately, there is a unwarranted stigma due to lack of knowledge about cooperatives, and universal health care, here in America.   Fortunately, there are quite a few seeds of hope and common sense which are growing.  Odd how single and closed minded people can become, until the light goes on and they become enlightened.  There are those that feel cooperatives and universal health care are socialist movements, and don’t want anything to do with them, until you make them aware of the fact that cooperatives through the Rochdale Principles give true democracy to the people.  When I mention the fact America’s fire departments, police departments, armed forces, public works, libraries, and schools, are socialistic, it is as though I hit them with some revelation that they weren’t aware of and start the question, “why not health care?”.  Anyway, I digress in frustration.”

In response, they sent: “The challenge that you have explained in your email affects co-operatives worldwide and that seems to be the main driver for the development of alternative descriptions (social enterprise, community-owned enterprise, farmer controlled business etc).  For us it is a case of being pragmatic with the use of language.  The frustrating thing is that co-operatives are a fundamentally capitalist business model as their whole point is to allow communities, farmers, small businesses and others to compete in a free market.  The fact that they provide social outcomes alongside economic outcomes should not be seen as a problem!  What is often forgotten is that co-operatives are a voluntary association of individuals or businesses not forced like the collectives of cold war era eastern Europe.

You, I think, would really enjoy reading up about our founder Sir Horace Plunkett.  He was an Anglo Irish rural co-operative pioneer but did quite a bit of work in the US with President Theodore Roosevelt.  There are quite a few books about him which are on the net and worth exploring as his ideas seem as relevant today as ever.  His values can be distilled down to:

–       the best people to solve a problem are the people facing the problem

–       enterprise is often the best way to solve a problem in the long term

–       this economic activity must be community based and community led and lead to social improvements or it will be doomed to fail”

How poignant; but what does the latter have to do with the former?   We are spending vast amounts of money on Stimulus Broadband funds and that money is being misplaced.  We are spending vast amounts of resources bickering between private and public sectors.  Even after 150 years we still have not learned that “the best people to solve a problem are the people facing the problem”.

In reality, there is nothing new presented on this website, only the obvious.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: