The development of broadband public networks: Two case studies

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Information Science and Technology


Murali Venkatesh


Broadband, Public networks, New York, Telecommunications policy

Subject Categories

Communication | Communication Technology and New Media | Library and Information Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences


A case study was conducted on two broadband public networks in Buffalo and the Adirondacks. The focus of the study was on the processes involved in the development of broadband public networks funded by the New York State Advanced Telecommunication Program. This study evaluated the two network projects by tracing their developmental processes, from network design to the stabilization of broadband public networks. In addition, this study examined the directions, natures and results of these network developments. As a theoretical framework, this study drew on Socio-Technical System Approaches by combining the theories of Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) and Social Shaping of Technology (SST).

Methodologically, the study used an in-depth case study approach. It mainly focused on the Program period, from the beginning of the Program in 1995 to its ending in 2001. This study collected and analyzed qualitative data primarily through in-depth interviews, drawing on respondents' retrospective data. It drew on interviews from diverse relevant groups; strategic policy groups, subscriber groups, and telephone company's employees. In addition to interviews, it collected and analyzed archival documents from various sources to triangulate research findings.

The findings produced practical and theoretical contributions. As to practical contributions, this study provided the New York State government with a description of the developmental process of the two networks. Thus, it provided policy-makers and regulators with ideas for the improvement of state and nationwide telecommunication implementation and development. By being aware of the developmental processes, the New York State government can have a reference for further projects, such as upcoming e-government and statewide information system projects.

As to theoretical contributions, this study provided a conceptual base for understanding contemporary and future public networks by illustrating the applicability of SST and SCOT theories. With the two theories, it emphasized the process of technology development with its ongoing social context. In addition, this study identified weaknesses of the two theories, such as unable to explain the interactions among relevant social groups. To address these weaknesses, this study proposed that the technology intermediation should be integrated into the theories and be utilized in future public technology development.


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