Title

OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES FACING PUBLIC NETWORKS--AN EXPLORATORY STUDY OF ILLINOIS CENTURY NETWORK

Abstract

Public networks are facing ever increasing challenges to keep up with the needs of current and future users. At the same time local and state government support for public networks is declining and pressure to increase services is increasing due to the potential economic development opportunities these kinds of networks can bring about. An exploratory review of the Illinois Century Network using content analysis for the years 2004–2006 of the Advanced Engineering Taskforce reveals that the digital divide issue has not been focused on in the 2005 and 2006 reports. However, an impressive set of significant tasks to improve the network's operation and performance have been accomplished over the last three years. In particular, the increases in bandwidth and network reliability are impressive. Audio and video traffic with low cost Quality of Service has also been added. A major policy question is, given the fact that state support for public networks is generally declining and pressure to increase services is increasing what alternatives exist to fund the expected additional services? Is it time for the private sector to provide financial support for this public network and if so at what cost?

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