The Emerging World of Broadband Public-Private Partnerships: A Business Strategy and Legal Guide

Author(s): 
Joanne Hovis
Marc Schulhof
Jim Baller
Ashley Stelfox
Publication Date: 
Monday, 2016, February 1

As communities across the country realize the big corporate providers may never bring the kind of connectivity they need, they are considering the potential of public-private partnerships. 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.

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 report offers case studies from several networks to illustrate the findings. Among others, the authors write about Westminster, MarylandUrbana/Champaign, Illinois; and Holly Springs, North Carolina. Each community has collaborated with the private sector in some unique partnership.

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.