“Utah enjoys a greater level of connectivity than many other states with similar population densities and geography, largely due to the collaboration that exists between public and private entities,” said Tara Thue, manager of the Utah Broadband Project. “We have found that many of these partnerships are unique to Utah and we are often asked to share these achievements with other states.”
Some examples of public/private partnerships in Utah include:
• The Utah Department of Transportation (UDOT) has given the State a competitive advantage by facilitating the expansion of broadband infrastructure into rural areas by conducting cooperative fiber and conduit trades with broadband service providers and has a best practice of laying fiber during road construction projects, where it makes sense.
• Utah’s educational institutions are highly served due to the efforts of the Utah Education Network (UEN), which has worked with local telecommunications service providers to discounted funding for broadband to connect over 1000 schools, colleges, and libraries, most with gigabit-speed connections.
The Council is comprised of public and private entities and has met monthly to discuss how broadband access impacts education, libraries, economic development, public safety, health care, and transportation, as well as rural and tribal areas. For each of these focus subjects, the Report highlights the discussions of the Council and provides specific recommendations for Governor Gary R. Herbert, the Utah State Legislature, and other interested parties to consider.
“The formation of the Utah Broadband Advisory Council epitomizes Governor Herbert’s call for “unprecedented partnerships” and is another example of the public and private sectors working together to find Utah solutions to Utah problems,” said Spencer P. Eccles, executive director of the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development. “The level of collaboration and coordination that the Council has generated will impact Utah’s economy and quality of life for years to come.”
Utah has received national recognition for its extensive broadband infrastructure and high adoption rate. According to a 2011 report published by the U.S. Department of Commerce entitled Exploring the Digital Nation: Computer and Internet Use at Home, Utah ranked #1 in average home broadband adoption. In its most recent State of the Internet report, Akamai Technologies ranked Utah as having the fourth fastest Internet speeds in the nation, leading all western states.
The Council will continue to meet and its recommendations will be incorporated into a comprehensive state broadband plan which projected to be released later this year by the Utah Broadband Project. A digital version of the Utah Broadband Advisory Council Report can be accessed at http://blog.broadband.utah.gov/about/broadband-advisory-council.