IDC Hosts First Biannual New England State Government Broadband Summit

FRAMINGHAM, Mass., January 17, 2012 – On December 8, 2011, International Data Corporation (IDC) hosted its first New England State Government Broadband Summit. Attending the summit were representatives from broadband and telecom organizations in Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. At the summit, the state government broadband representatives discussed plans for fixed and mobile broadband deployment in their respective states. To supplement and frame the discussion, IDC offered insight and guidance from a national market perspective, presenting findings such as technology advancement, mobile infrastructure planning, and broadband application adoption and usage.

The catalyst for the IDC New England Broadband Summit is the national strategic broadband initiative funded by the February 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Fund (ARRA) stimulus program. The goals and guidelines dictating the disbursement of the $7.2 billion broadband funding portion of the ARRA were important factors for the FCC when outlining similar goals and guidelines for the March 2010 National Broadband Plan.

Solving the last mile challenge is among the key priorities federal funding is attempting to resolve and is perhaps the most difficult challenge in bringing broadband to the U.S. population. "The use of tax dollars to fund broadband initiatives has the potential to put incumbent carriers at odds with state programs," said Matt Davis, program director, Consumer Multiplay and Broadband Services. "Incumbent telcos and MSOs are in the best position to bridge the infrastructure 'digital divide' the states are working to solve." While fiber to the home is the preferred vehicle for broadband connectivity, in many cases cable modem, DSL, and emerging mobile solutions – including satellite – will continue to be relied upon for broadband in the foreseeable future.

When considering broadband deployment challenges and interaction with incumbent service providers, there are differences in the issues facing the states. With large rural territories of hard to reach communities and pockets of households, New Hampshire, Maine, and Vermont have the most significant physical digital divide issues with which to contend. Rhode Island and Connecticut have higher population densities with better overall broadband coverage and are focusing more of their efforts on encouraging broadband adoption and education. Massachusetts has to focus on both sets of issues, facing the rural digital divide question in the western part of the State, and facing the urban issues that the greater Boston area creates. All of the states are working to upgrade rural access infrastructures.

IDC's recently published report, IDC New England Broadband Summit Event Synopsis (IDC #232544) provides a summary of the recent summit. It is clear from the summit that despite being several years into the road map envisioned by the ARRA and National Broadband Plan there is an urgent requirement for incumbent carrier incentives to cooperate with state initiatives when tackling the difficult last mile challenge. In addition there is a common goal, driven by social commitment by the states and increased market penetration by broadband providers, to bring a higher percentage of the population into the digital age by increasing broadband usage. The larger goals of the public and private broadband participants are commonly shared; the challenge is working out the details of how to create a win-win scenario for both groups. States need to continue to improve their approaches to gaining consensus and collaboration among public and private stakeholders, including local governments, service providers, education institutions, and economic development interests, and to be prepared to adopt policy and regulatory changes to achieve their goals. IDC will continue to work with state representatives and provide input to facilities-based broadband providers to help guide this process. The next Summit is scheduled for May 2012.

About IDC

International Data Corporation (IDC) is the premier global provider of market intelligence, advisory services, and events for the information technology, telecommunications, and consumer technology markets. IDC helps IT professionals, business executives, and the investment community to make fact-based decisions on technology purchases and business strategy. More than 1,000 IDC analysts provide global, regional, and local expertise on technology and industry opportunities and trends in over 110 countries. For more than 47 years, IDC has provided strategic insights to help our clients achieve their key business objectives. IDC is a subsidiary of IDG, the world's leading technology media, research, and events company. You can learn more about IDC by visiting www.idc.com.