The Gigabit Nation Top 10 for 2013

Gigabit Nation started in 2011 as a radio talk show to give listeners valuable news and instruction on how to bring faster, better broadband to communities nationwide. The show is now also a repository and reference center for best practices that help broadband project teams manage the business operations logistics of community broadband.

As each year begins, it’s good to look back over the most popular shows to see which broadband deployment issues drew the biggest interest, re-learn the lessons these presented, and predict a little about which issues will be important in the upcoming year. Nearly 80,000 broadcasts have been streamed or downloaded since the first Gigabit Nation broadcast highlighted Chattanooga’s public-owned network.

Continue reading

Will Your 2014 Broadband Strategy Embrace Multi-Dweling Units? (pt 1)

As economic development pros and others develop strategies for using broadband to boost their local economies, here’s one strategy you should consider that can achieve this goal PLUS increase the financial strength of the network. Are you selling owners of commercial multi-dwelling units (MDUs) on being anchor tenants of the network?

Analyze Santa Monica, CA’s execution of this strategy so you can repeat their success. The City of Santa Monica’s IT Department built its initial fiber network infrastructure in 2004 primarily to replace the city government’s aging data and voice communication networks, saving $750,000 in the first year. Then they discovered offering services to local businesses attracted new companies and jobs.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

The “Building the Gigabit City” National Tour

Longmont, CO’s point person for the city’s gigabit buildout, Vince Jordan, recently said he gets lots of calls from Colorado communities asking how to move forward with similar networks. His observations inspired me to create a special training program to give communities the building blocks to replicate U.S. gigabit success stories.

As those billions of stimulus dollars in middle mile network buildouts nationwide begin lighting up, communities are realizing a whole lot of work is still required to get actual Internet services into their neighborhoods. Quite a few also are realizing they don’t know quite how to plan or pay for these communitywide last mile networks.

So my program is a full-day, roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work event limited to 20 jurisdictions max, and broken down into five sessions. Each session, addresses a specific skill set, and is tailored to local issues and addressing attendees’ feedback I gather from pre-workshop questionnaires and worksheets.

The key element is the consulting. My advice is customized to workshop attendees’ questions and needs. Attendees build skills in implementing key tasks necessary for moving broadband projects forward. My book, Building the Gigabit City, continues the skills development by expanding on lessons learned during the workshop.

Sessions overview

  1. Recruiting key community stakeholders
  2. Effective constituent data gathering and needs assessments
  3. Assessing business models and funding options
  4. Finding the “one thing”
  5. Marketing strategy and tactics

This is the initial list of cities where the training sessions will take place. If your state’s not included, call me: 510-387-4176.

There are also sponsorship opportunities for companies that want to participate in a unique marketing outreach program targeted to decision makers ready to move broadband projects forward.

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

Continue reading

Building the Gigabit City – My Latest Book Launches

Last week I released my first e-book, Building the Gigabit City. Enthusiasm for building broadband networks on their own or in public private partnerships is growing rapidly in communities across the U.S. But there’s so much that people need/want to know about community broadband, it’s almost impossible to bring it altogether in one place. Building the Gigabit City focuses on the needs assessment process. Do this part right and you significantly increase your odds for having a successful broadband project.

BGC smallerSuperfast broadband significantly boosts local economies, transforms education, improves healthcare delivery and increases local government efficiency. Building the Gigabit City helps you ask the right questions so you can do the same for your constituents.

Pulling valuable lessons from many of the 340 communities with successful broadband networks, this multimedia guide overflows with practical advice. Building the Gigabit City, produced in partnership with Gigabit Squared, helps rural and urban communities:

 

  1. ignore the hype surrounding gigabit networks;
  2. understand what super-fast access can and cannot do for your community;
  3. conduct effective needs assessment; and
  4. plan effective broadband strategy.

Here’s the Table of Contents

Continue reading

Stemming Anti-Muni Network Tide with Economic Development Wins

Last Thursday, the forces for truth, justice and the community broadband way scored a major victory, rallying a <gasp!> bi-partisan coalition of Georgia state legislators to defeat the anti-muni broadband bill that would have left the state a broadband backwater. 94 Democrats and Republicans united to kill House Bill 282, which would have prevented municipalities from building networks anywhere incumbents offered at least 3 Mbps.

“With this vote,” states Catherine Rice, President of the SouthEast Association of Telecommunications Officers & Advisors, “Georgia has drawn a line in the sand, stating for the rest of the country that no one in the United States should be denied high speed broadband. The bipartisan majority that voted down House Bill 282 also demonstrates that having access to gigabit infrastructure is NOT a partisan issue, it is an infrastructure issue.”

Pretty amazing for a statehouse that’s locked up by the GOP. Want to know what the secret of defeating this back-assward bill was? Economic development. That’s right. The only thing that seems to counterbalance the lure of big telco bucks to vote against constituents’ best interests is the lure of potentially saving their economically frayed constituencies. I have nine success stories for you to boost your legislative efforts.

Continue reading

Kansas City, Google Fiber and Economic Development

All eyes seem to be on Kansas City after Google’s announcement last Thursday with important details on their fiber network. A lot of those details address consumer-side issues. Google promises to address business apps at some later date.

In the meantime, KC stakeholders are addressing broadband’s impact on economic development, and in part through their Web site GoogleConnectsKC. I was retained to write a series of 12 articles for the site on different communities that are making economic development strides using wired and wireless broadband.

Five have been posted so far and each week one of the remaining seven are being posted. Check these out and add them to your broadband playbook. Economic development in its many forms will be one of broadband’s killer apps in KC and elsewhere. This series helps you reinforce that strategy.

Articles so far

Continue reading

In Broadband, the Questions Not Asked Can Kill Ya

I tell people in my presentations and workshops that knowing the right questions to ask is often equally or more important than the answers you get. Or the corollary of this philosophy, the questions you don’t ask could doom your project.

The ship Titantic’s front hull was built and fortified in answer to the question “what if we hit an iceberg head on?” But the ship’s demise came from no one apparently asking the question, “what if the ship sideswipes an iceberg?” Titantic’s bow could take a major hit and sustain damage in a way that probably wouldn’t have sunk her. But alas, the iceberg that did her in scraped the less durable side of the ship, slicing open four compartments that ultimately flooded and sunk the ship.

A common question today from critics of communities’ desire for a gigabit network is, “who needs a gigabit?” A question driven logically but shortsightedly by the fact that very few applications exist that can move a gigabit per second.

Continue reading

What Econ Dev Professionals Are Saying about Broadband

This week, in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), I launched my annual national survey of economic development professionals to gather their feedback on the role broadband plays, or could play, influencing various local economic outcomes. I started doing this in 2006 because I felt that government officials, consultants, the media and others were overstating muni wireless’ potential impact on local economies.

The exaggerations from elected officials often were the result of not fully understanding what the technology could and couldn’t do. You have to go to the people who work in the trenches every day tackling economic development issues to learn what are reasonable expectations. More politicians then should have taken their cues from the professionals, but fortunately today quite a few elected leaders are calling it right when it comes to broadband and its economic impact.

This year’s survey doesn’t close until Friday (8/26), and I won’t give away the results until after that. But one thing I always find informative is to give survey respondents one open-ended question in which they say how they really feel about an issue. This year’s bonus question is, “How can you and your professional peers help communities get broadband services that improve local economic development?”

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: