Digital Cities - Better Private-Public Collaboration for Broadband Access

If we believe there are significant social as well as economic benefits from providing very fast broadband access to as many people as possible, then we need to think of new ways to make it happen. And that means new models for private-public sector collaboration, as the current approaches are not effective.

That's the background to the Digital Cities Summit next Thursday at the Telco 2.0 event. We're delighted to have a stellar cast of 'stimulus presenters' who are all bringing new analysis to the table. The aim of the brainstorm is to define some clear Next Steps guidance for those involved in broadband provision to citizens in Europe.

In practice this will mean turning the output of the brainstorm into a report that will help clarify the partnership approaches needed between telcos, government (local and central), physical infrastructure providers, regulators, financiers and vendors; new revenue opportunities, growth areas and approaches to business cases; ideas for alternative funding vehicles and risk sharing; and overcoming go-to-market issues on public-private initiatives.

So, all brainstorms need a good structure, and we start by looking at: "Where's the Value from Pervasive Access to High-Bandwidth: the real Economic and Social Benefits...and Costs?"

We then try to bring this to life with examples from different sectors: Healthcare (the UK's National Health Service), Environment (via research into role of broadband in supporting sustainable urban development), and education.

Next we look outside of the communications industry to see what we can learn from PPP/PFI approaches in infrastructure development in other industry sectors.

Finally, ideas from those with practical experience from multiple sides of the fence about how service providers and the public sector could collaborate better to fund access and services. (What do municipalities need to do to be more friendly to investment? What do operators need to do differently to engage municipalities? Should municipalities operate independently from central government at all?)

Output from the event will provide good material for our partners, INEC's, International Broadband Cities 2007 Conference in The Netherlands on 14th and 15th November.

This brings together 25 international visionary leaders from the political and industrial spheres to share their experiences, strategies and policies on broadband in relation to economic growth, social inclusion and sustainability under the comprehensive title: 'Cities Planning for an Attractive, Sustainable, Competitive and Socially Inclusive Community of Tomorrow'. More details here