The chapter explores the characteristics of rural broadband infrastructure development. Taking the existing installed base into consideration, small rural communities can initiate bottom-up cultivation of broadband infrastructure. Such initiatives are important contributions to overcoming the disparity in broadband access. In effect they aggregate demand by creating a larger total market for suppliers than the individual needs of the actors. The proposal is to use descriptive clusters as a way to reveal the installed base. A set of questions and answers will be defined to reveal the installed base. This can be used to acquire an overview of the types of resources available and the choices that need to be made. The use of descriptive clusters places emphasis on the local context and culture. With a bottom-up strategy, questions must be answered in relation to the local context. The responses and lessons learned may vary from one location to the next, making blueprint implementations impossible.
Key Terms in this Chapter
Infrastructure: A “set of interconnected structural elements that provide the framework for supporting the entire structure. It usually applies only to structures that are artificial” (Wikipedia, 2006). An infrastructure may be viewed as a network that connects an integrated and heterogeneous set of components—such as equipment, systems, applications, processes, and people—while at the same time these components form rather stable structures with certain inertia. Infrastructures are often taken for granted; their existence is only noticed when a segment breaks down, for example, during a power outage. There are many types of infrastructures:
Information Infrastructure: An infrastructure that supports the information society: the equipment, systems, applications, support systems, and so forth that are needed for operating in the information society. The term was introduced with the National Information Infrastructure initiative launched by the Clinton Administration in 1994. In the Clinton-Gore initiative the Internet is described as an information infrastructure shared by the users.
Høykom: A Norwegian program to increase the demand for broadband services. The Høykom (www.hoykom.no) program is at present in its third period of operation. The program was initiated in 1999 for a period of three years (1999-2001). Its current period of operation lasts from 2005-2007. Høykom has provided financial support for more than 400 projects on a shared financing basis. Høykom supports projects initiated by the public sector with up to 50% of total project costs, totaling more than €45 million and has led to a total project volume of more than €130 million.
Public utilities: such as telephone and electricity networks
Cultivation: A strategy for developing technological systems. The term originates from the sphere of agriculture and means to “to grow and cultivate plants and the domestication of animals.” Dahlbom and Janlert (1996) use the two terms “construction” and “cultivation” to describe two different processes to shape technology. “Construction” emphasizes the human ability to shape the world according to set of goals. ‘Cultivation’ refers to the process of selecting and assembling components, but also to a process of growth or development in the material itself that has characteristics that influence the development.
Public services: such as fire departments, police, and waste management
National services such as defense: postal services, and the national bank
Broadband: High-speed data transmission. There is no clear definition of what constitutes a broadband transmission. Some definitions only consider speeds above 2 Mbit/s, while in this chapter speeds above 384 kbit/s are considered as broadband, while ISDN and modem transmissions fall outside the definition of broadband.
Transportation: such as roads and public transportation