Palo Alto urged to apply for broadband stimulus

Palo Alto, Calif., continues to look for options to fulfill its desire to establish a municipal broadband network, and U.S Rep. Anna Eshoo (D.-Palo Alto) this week suggested that the city apply for broadband stimulus funds. Eshoo noted that she had not included Palo Alto in her own appeal for funds, but that the city could apply on its own.

Does Palo Alto, the home of Stanford University, fit the profile of an "underserved" market that should receive broadband stimulus? Palo Alto becoming a stimulus applicant is exactly the kind of act that would inspire more fervent debate about the definition of "underserved" (as one of our readers noted in a comment posted to a past story), at a time when that detail has been left unclear by the stimulus program's architects. As a San Jose Mercury News story notes, even some locals doubt that the city meets that criteria, though they still believe Palo Alto could be held up as a model for municipal broadband, and that a state-of-the-art network in Palo Alto could benefit the surrounding region as a whole.

Meanwhile, in a past post on the Palo Alto network, we also suggested that public-owned municipal broadband networks do not often pan out as well as municipalities hope. We'll stick by that observation because there are several (Provo, Utah; Philadelphia, Chicago, Athens, Ga.) that have not lived up to expectations, but one reader recently reminded us in an e-mail that there are also several (Tacoma, Wash.; Burlington, Vt.; Cedar Falls, Iowa, and others) that have fared well. Duly noted.

For more:
- The San Jose Mercury News has this story

Related article
The Palo Alto City Council agreed to continue with its municipal broadband aspirations