The New Urban Infrastructure: Cities and Telecommunications

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Traditionally, city governments have played an active role in the administration of public works that were necessary to the economic survival of the community. However, a major element of the new urban infrastructure, advanced telecommunications networks, are developing in such a way that the municipal role in its development is minimal. This book presents new information on the rapidly changing configuration of urban telecommunications. The editors examine important planning data illustrating how major metro areas are dealing with new opportunities in telecommumication. They describe the interplay among current stakeholders in this area: public utility commissions, city planners and service providers, state governments, telecommunications users (especially large businesses), and consumer groups. The book provides case studies of major U.S. cities, one Canadian city, a metropolitan area on the U.S.-Mexican border, as well as smaller cities that have positioned themselves for international economic trade whereby telecommunications will play a major role.

The contributors find that cities need to be more involved in understanding how telecommunications systems are changing and in planning how they can best exploit new opportunities afforded by these systems. They contend that while telecommunication may not cause economic development, it seems to be a necessary condition for it. The book offers clear illustrations of the extent to which business users depend on communications. The ability of business and government to bypass the local carrier has important implications for the public network and for cities in their use of telecommunication.

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