Telecommunications

CSG South

On January 29, 2015, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) redefined "broadband internet." Under the new definition, broadband internet connection must meet benchmark speeds of 25 megabits per second (Mbps) for downloads and 3 Mbps for uploads. Such speeds allow multiple users (or devices) within a household to browse the web and stream video simultaneously, or allow a single user to stream high definition video. The Commission's redefinition of broadband—more than six times its previous download speed benchmark of 4 Mbps—reflects the growing ubiquity of the Internet and aims to ensure the infrastructure has the capacity to meet new, data-intensive usage and its derived benefits.

This SLC Regional Resource examines the role of states in broadband deployment and its relationship to municipal and federal initiatives, with particular attention to the needs of rural areas, and the successes of Southern cities and towns. Notably, this SLC Regional Resource focuses on government-owned broadband infrastructure and direct service provision, though other policies and incentives are discussed broadly. It does not address private alternative internet service providers.

By Brian Selander

There are hundreds of great articles, books and tutorials on how to become a more active and engaging presence on Twitter. Being a public official who wants to communicate in 140 characters or less comes with a unique set of challenges and opportunities.

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Across the Midwest, state legislators have heard stories about the promise of high-speed broadband, and the problems of having inadequate or no connections at all. In her home state, Sen. Jennifer Shilling says, family-owned dairies in rural Wisconsin have been able to expand product sales well beyond state and even national borders — thanks to having a strong Internet presence. But at the same time, she has talked to emergency responders in rural parts of her district who couldn’t find a nearby Internet connection reliable enough to simply complete a state-mandated certification course. 

This Act establishes procedures and fees to enable telecommunications providers to install telecommunications facilities on rail-trail land under state ownership or control. It requires some of the money from such fees be used to develop and maintain rail-trails.

The National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) has been in talks with social media sites like Facebook, Google and Twitter to make their contract terms more amenable to state governments.  Generally the social media “click-through” contracts, or Terms of Service Agreements, have two salient issues:  first, they have indemnity clauses that could require state governments to pay legal fees related to a lawsuit against the companies and second, cases often would need to be tried in the court of the company’s home state.  Thanks to the diligent work of NASCIO’s Social Media Legal Workgroup, Facebook has already provided a revamped contract for state officials, and now Google’s YouTube has made similar updates.

Since the Super Committee failed to produce legislation to reduce the deficit, smaller yet extremely important issues have resurfaced in Congress. On Tuesday, Rep. Greg Walden introduced the Jumpstarting Opportunity through Broadband Spectrum, or JOBS, Act. The bill seems to be on the fast track to approval in the U.S. House, as this Thursday, the Committee on Energy and Commerce will take up the bill.

As state leaders begin to realize and utilize the incredible potential of technology to promote transparency, encourage citizen participation and bring real-time information to their constituents, one area may have been overlooked. Every state provides public access to their statutory material online, but only seven states provide access to official versions of their statutes online. This distinction may seem academic or even trivial, but it opens the door to a number of questions that go far beyond simply whether or not a resource has an official label.

The Pew Center on the States' Stateline.org surveyed governors' use of Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr.  According to their research, every governor used at least one form of the social media channels surveyed, and 47 out of 50 governors used both Facebook and Twitter.

Indiana GOP Senators are using QR codes on mailers and signs to help connect the print world to the online world (Read the press release here).  

Get some mail from your state senator with an odd looking barcode on it?  Scan it with your phone, and you could automotically be directed to her or his web page on your phone's web browser without having to go through the troubleof typing in the URL on a tiny phone keyboard or starting up your computer.

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Carolyn Cournoyer writes for Governing on a Texas bill that would make sending and receiving text messages illegal for lawmakers, in the interest of keeping public business open.

As Cournoyer explains:

The measure, introduced in March by Rep. Todd Hunter, would make it illegal for Texas legislators to send or receive a text, e-mail or instant message, or make posts to websites, during public meetings. It’s not a question of whether lawmakers are paying

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