As communities across the country realize the big corporate providers may never bring the kind of connectivity they need, public-private partnerships (PPPs) are sprouting up everywhere. A new report by Joanne Hovis, Marc Schulhof, Jim Baller, and Ashley Stelfox, takes a look at the issues facing local governments and their private sector partners.
Interjection from Christopher Mitchell: Partnerships are emphatically not sprouting up everywhere. To be more correct, enthusiasm around the idea of partnerships is sprouting up in many places. But compared to the hundreds of municipal networks currently in operation, we could maybe name ten partnerhips in existence today.
The Emerging World of Broadband Public-Private Partnerships: A Business Strategy and Legal Guide examines the practical considerations when investigating PPPs for better connectivity. The report was published by the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) and the Benton Foundation.
The Benton Foundation sums up the three models explored in the report:
- Private investment, public facilitation – The model focuses not on a public sector investment, but on modest measures the public sector can take to enable or encourage greater private sector investment. Google Fiber is the most prominent example, but there is significant interest among smaller companies
- Private execution, public funding – This model, which involves a substantial amount of public investment, is a variation on the traditional municipal ownership model for broadband infrastructure—but with private rather than public sector execution.
- Shared investment and risk – In this model, localities and private partners find creative ways to share the capital, operating, and maintenance costs of a broadband network.
The authors also share expertise on a range of legal topics that often arise when working with a private sector partner. They share their years of experience with matters such as confirmation of authority at state and local levels, project planning, and common issues related to negotiating the agreement.
The report offers case studies from several networks to illustrate the findings. Among others, the authors write about Westminster, Maryland; Urbana/Champaign, Illinois; and Holly Springs, North Carolina. Each community has collaborated with the private sector in some unique partnership.
Hovis and Schulhof, from CTC Technology and Energy, have worked with cities and states as to strategize and develop broadband master plans, business models, and feasibility studies. The firm has helped a number of communities as they have forged ahead with PPPs to create Internet networks.
Baller and Stefox, hail from Baller Herbst Stokes & Lide, PC, one of the top firms that handle communications law. They have decades of experience working with local communities and state and federal communications issues.
In conjunction with the release of the report, CLIC will also hold a series of webinars on PPPs. The first is scheduled for February 25th, 11 a.m. C.S.T. and you can register for the free event online.