Middle Mile Investment Key to Broadband Expansion Efforts
In many ways, broadband networks are our digital roads. Essential to serving the public good and facilitating social and economic advancement, broadband assets have become a critical infrastructure component to our modern lives. But like roads, broadband networks are vulnerable to congestion when a swell of traffic pushes infrastructure to its capacity, explains Steve Truebner, Sales Director at Black & Veatch, in a recent article for Broadband Breakfast.
In our rapidly digitalizing society, broadband usage is growing significantly. In 2021, it shot up by 29 percent, going on to grow another 34 percent in 2022. As this growth stimulates working in new ways and greater access to knowledge, governments have a responsibility to update infrastructure capacity to meet increasing load. States looking to make these investments should remember the importance of middle mile networks, explains Truebner, as they work in tandem with the more popular last mile networks to provide adequate connectivity.
As many states lack sufficient middle mile connectivity, their last mile services may not meet their full potential. Although broadband expansion funding tends to be directed primarily toward last mile development, added middle mile networks can open up competition among service providers and heighten capacity for data flows.
“Meaningful middle mile investments, in concert with last mile deployments, will better prepare communities for the digital future and support the objectives of accessible, affordable broadband,” writes Truebner.
To realize potential middle mile investments, states can consider federal funding set out by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or can turn to partnerships like regional middle mile cooperatives, statewide middle mile initiatives, utility partnerships and locally organized public private partnerships. Doing so will expand community access to all the resources internet connectivity has to offer.
As Truebner explains of complementary middle mile and last mile infrastructure, “this multifaceted network is the indispensable infrastructure that will support the digital upheaval that is touching everything in our modern society, and a citizen’s connection to the internet is often only as strong as the weakest link in the connectivity ecosystem.”