ski 'n surf in Vermont

At the excellent Freedom to Connect 2007 conference, Vermont Governor Jim Douglas spoke about his e-state initiative. Gov. Douglas wants everyone everywhere in Vermont to have cellular and broadband coverage. Some quantitative goals are a minimum of 3 Mb symmetric bandwidth (upload and download) by 2010 and 20 Mb by 2013. This initiative, if supported and successfully implemented, will make Vermont an even nicer place for living, skiing, surfing the web, and running all kinds of great communication services.

[if you can’t see the video, try here]

Gov. Douglas proposes creating a Vermont Telecommunications Authority to lead public investment in the necessary communications infrastructure. The Telecommunications Authority will both provide access to relevant state assets and make new investments:

The state can provide the Authority with its moral obligation of up to $40 million in bonds to back projects in the first year of construction and possibly more if needed and sustainable. The initial target is to leverage more than $200 million in private sector investment with the state’s backing. Repayment of borrowing for the projects will be based on revenues generated from leasing access to the infrastructure, such as fiber optic networks and space on towers, or the revenues from services provided over the network. The value of the assets controlled or created by the Authority will also help to secure the value of any bonds.[Vermont Way Forward, p. 5]

The state can credibly commit to open access to the infrastructure and to not moving to capture profitable retail services. That institutional structure creates value that private investment cannot easily duplicate. It provides a good environment for mobile application development platforms like OpenMoko.

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