How to Prep for the Upcoming FCC Pilot Funding Program

Got a call the other day with an inside scoop about an upcoming FCC funding opportunity that’s a promising way to distribute money from the oft maligned Connect America Fund (CAF). This likely will lead to a feeding frenzy not seen since the days when the NTIA and RUS broadband stimulus programs launched.

Community stakeholders, public utilities, ISPs and “nontraditional” potential providers of Internet services want to know: 1) will we even qualify given the restrictive nature of past CAF funding, 2) how much money are we taking here and 3) most importantly, how do we get our hands on it?

It’s hinted that any entity is eligible, but time will tell. Total dollars available – unknown Check out the details, what few there are, on my Gigabit Nation radio show interview from last week. My job here today is to tell you how to prep to get a piece of the pie.

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Colorado Muni Networks Win Twin Victories at the Ballot Box!

One of the more deceitful of the telco/cableco tactics to eliminate municipal-owned broadband networks is the state-legislated local referendum asking citizens to approve these projects. Mercifully, the Colorado cities of Longmont and Centennial blew the doors off that strategy, and with barely a whimper from Comcast, a lead antagonist of that state’s public network efforts .

As Longmont discovered, these incumbent-engineered “referendum” laws cloaked in the illusion of democracy requires voter approval of even the intent to consider local government- or public utility-ownership of a broadband network. The sleight of hand at work here is this. City governments typically are the entity putting a measure to fund a broadband network on the ballot, but government officials are legally prevented from saying anything publicly in favor of the measure. Incumbents, on the other hand, can and have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars per election to defeat the initiative.

Yesterday, both Longmont and Centennial won their referendums (by 2: 1 and 3:1 margins respectively) to  control city-owned infrastructure and the means by which each city facilitates bringing better, faster broadband to constituents.

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Building the Gigabit City Demands the Right Foundation

Using broadband to impact local economic development is not an exact science and it may never be. However, there are some threads of commonality that run through many of the community broadband success stories. Here are a few.

Needs analysis – don’t leave home without it

Unless you do sufficient needs analysis early and often, your efforts are in peril before you even leave the gate. In  eight years of surveying economic development professionals nationwide, I’ve frequently found that some policymakers speaking on behalf of broadband are on a different page than those who work dealing with economic issues daily. For example, some FCC and other D.C. policymakers at times have been prone to put wireless on a pedestal as the Great Broadband Hope, whereas the econ dev professionals consistently report that fiber networks have a greater economic impact.

Only by doing thorough analyses can community stakeholders uncover the extent of constituents’ needs, and determine how meeting those needs will lead to financial sustainability of the network. Meeting these needs wins subscribers, which ties directly to your success. If you can’t cover a significant portion of your network’s operating costs, it won’t be an effective economic development tool.

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With Google Fiber, This Isn’t Your Father’s Startup Incubator

KCSV

Entrepreneurs starting technology businesses in their garages is the stuff of Silicon Valley folk lore. But will home-based entrepreneurialism propelled by Google Fiber be the lure for a new generation of entrepreneurs flocking to Kansas City and gigabit cities across the United States? Kansas City Startup Village says, “Yes indeed!”

Attendees in Kansas City for the recently Fiber to the Home Council’s conference, “From Gigabit Envy to Gigabit Deployed,” got a peek into the future of startup development. “The idea for KCSV came to us in September last year,” said co-founder Matthew Marcus in a panel session. “Our three buildings came on line with Google Fiber in the first neighborhood to get connected. Without any planning we began using these buildings to house entrepreneurs and create environments of collaboration and inspiration.”

Marcus owns one of the buildings, which are all within a block of each other, and hosts four companies including Local Ruckus that he co-founded with Adam Arredondo. Ben Barreth, a Web site builder and committed entrepreneur, bought one of the other homes, which he dubbed Homes for Hackers. Barreth provides free room and access to Google Fiber for startup entrepreneurs who can live in the house for three months and then move on to other locations.

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14 Gigabit Success Stories. But Wait, There’s More!

Too often we see the incumbent propaganda that proclaims all community broadband networks to be failures. But nothing could be further from the truth as there are over 340 such networks, some having been around for 12 or 14 years. True, there are a tiny number of problem children, but four or five out of 340 pretty much spells.

That said, these networks have not had, nor will they have, an easy road to success. If your community plans to follow in their footsteps and leave big shoes for others to fill, you have to learn from those who’ve gone before. In my new e-book, Building the Gigabit City, I include a list of 14 of the 35 communities that own gigabit networks and were on my Gigabit Nation radio show. with an honorary mention of the Kansas Cities since Google actually owns that gigabit network.

Take some time to listen to these interviews. Here are 14 hours of valuable lessons, insights and practical advice from those in the trenches getting broadband done. Download my book (complements of Gigabit Squared) and get the inside scoop on these and many more communities with broadband networks of various capacities and technologies.

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It Takes a Village and Broadband to Raise a Startup

I’m in Kansas City this week for the Fiber to the Home Council conference “From Gigabit Envy to Gigabit Deployed.” Gigabit Nation will be broadcast live from here each day this week.

There are some great shows here you don’t want to miss.

Tuesday

It Takes a Village & Broadband to Raise a Startup

63% of participants in a national survey have seen communities use broadband to harness home-based businesses into a economic engine, or believe strongly that communities can do this. Gigabit Nation goes to Kansas City to spotlight this dynamic at work.

Wednesday

Transforming Education in a Gigabit World

One of broadband’s promised benefits is to dramatically change the process of educating children and adults. This broadcast explores how Kansas City can expect the new Google Fiber network to impact learning and knowledge retention while preparing students to live and work in the digital economy.

Thursday

Wireless Gigabit Drives KC Economic Development Too

Could Google’s heavy initial focus on residential subscribers, while putting the business community on the backburner, shortchange KCK’s and KCMO’s economic development hopes? Cultivating startups is a plus. But mid-size and large cities boost local economies by making existing companies of all sizes stronger, as well as attracting larger companies to town.

Friday

Kansas City Call-in 

So, what do the average resident or business owner in Kansas City think about Google Fiber? A lot of pundits and politicians and media folks, of course, have weighed in with lots of excited commentary. Join us for an hour of thought provoking discussion with those who stand to be impacted the most by Google coming to town.

The Gigabit City and Economic Development

Those of you who’ve followed my writings regularly know that I conduct a survey every year to get a snapshot of how broadband impacts economic development. Usually I work with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) to survey their members. This year I switched things up a bit and worked with Broadband Communities magazine to focus on local government staffs, service providers, consultants and others involved with broadband.

The primary purpose for expanding the scope of the survey is to bring additional perspectives into the discussion of broadband and economic development. I still highlight a core of six economic outcomes:

  • attracting new businesses to a community
  • making existing current businesses more profitable
  • reviving depressed business districts
  • increasing home-based businesses
  • reviving depressed communities
  • improving personal economic development

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