Rhode Island’s Broadband Future

Rhode Island, the tiny state most of us overlook is taking an enlightened stand on the whole issue of broadband. By establishing a public-private partnership, the state officials are trying to make broadband available to all, and at the same are fostering use of broadband for new applications. The motives are pretty easy to understand. More broadband and connectivity will result in higher economic activity in the state, and will eventually lead to higher employment. Nearly 40 companies and other groups are being roped in to build one state wide network that is both wireless and wireline in nature. The official name of the project is Rhode Island Wireless Innovation Networks. Those who have signed up include IBM, Intel and APC.

I think what makes it possible for Rhode Island to be the first state to do this is the size of the state and innovation at scale being possible,” said Katherine O’Dea. She added that the state already has extensive networking. “We’re pretty well connected throughout the state.” O’Dea said that while she hasn’t seen the numbers on whether a statewide network is financially feasible, “it’s more feasible here than anywhere else because of the scale.”

The initial focus of the network is business community. RI-WINs will focus on five types of services including the resale of fixed and mobile broadband wireless access services and working with service provider partners to incrementally extend wireless infrastructure for border-to-border coverage as economics justify. I think in light of all the anti-muni broadband legislations, this approach seems to be a win-win situation, though I admit it is too early to predict what the end result is going to be. Read full story from Providence Business News.