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.

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Your Broadband Education Straight from the Source

Nowhere else on the Web can you find such a complete source of first-hand broadband project management and policy experience. And this knowledgebase grows weekly.

Last August I launched Gigabit Nation, the only radio talk show devoted to broadband, and have amassed quite a treasure trove of excellent insights as well as advice from people immersed in broadband projects and policy. Over 60 hours of interviews with public, private and nonprofit sector leaders who are getting broadband done.

Below is just a sampling of Gigabit Nation interviews. Go to the show’s Web site to get the complete list of archived shows. And don’t miss my upcoming shows. There are new guests and new topics every week. Tell your friends.

[Take this 5-minute survey to influence topics for future shows]

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This Week on Gigabit Nation (June 29)

Seven-Point Game Plan for a Winning Broadband Co-op Strategy

Today’s show tackles the topic of co-ops. They are covered in my report on alternative funding, but a group in Colorado brings another dimension to this tactic.

My guest Frank Ohrtman, former manager in the Colorado Office of Information Technology, explains how his regional co-op unites the efforts of co-ops within 40 of the state’s 64 counties. Bringing these dispersed organizations under one umbrella enables all the communities to benefit from some economy of scale when it comes to planning, executing creative broadband tactics and leveraging best practices.

Ohrtman shares with listeners a 7-point strategic plan for maximizing the efforts of co-ops and other organizations working with community stakeholders to bring broadband to the area. He also gives our audience a few recommendations on how to build and effectively manage a regional co-op. Don’t miss this interview (the archive will be at this URL if you miss the live show).

How local businesses can fund your broadband buildout

Yesterday, listeners learned about the power of having local businesses fund broadband projects, particularly in urban areas where there’s a misconception that everyone in the big city has all the broadband they need. OSIsoft CEO Pat Kennedy describes how and why his company is underwriting a buildout in San Leandro, CA.

Are there several local businesses that care about your community economic development? They don’t have to be ISPs or even tech companies. Get three or four companies together that will benefit directly from a highspeed network, and who care about the community overall prospering, and present them with a vision of what broadband can do for your community. You’ll be surprised with the results.

Listen to Kennedy discuss what steps are important to make this tactic work. Though you have to work hard to get all the pieces to fall into place, this is a manageable process that can be just the ticket for generating necessary dollars for CapEx.

You can get gig service for under $100/months

You don’t have to live in South Korea to get 1-gig broadband speed for less than $100 a month. Gigabit Nation’s guest on Tuesday, CityLink Telecommunications CEO John Brown laid out just how you do that.

This show took on two misconceptions that appear to be holding some communities back from pursuing broadband. One is that the cost of deploying fiber is so expensive that you can’t keep the service affordable for most constituents. Brown contends that proper planning and effective cost management by ISPs can lead to a high quality network, and still give them room for generating profits from sub-$100 subscriber fees.

We also discussed the erroneous assumption that user-financed broadband networks cannot generate sufficient dollars for buildout, or to stay competitive over the long run. Brown presents listeners with insights from broadband projects that have residents and businesses paying for both the buildout as well as monthly operations.

Check out this broadcast and see how you can step up your cost management efforts without sacrificing quality.

Community Foundations Boost Broadband and Economic Development

Today’s guest on my Gigabit Nation radio talk show, Sharon Stroh, gives us lots of valuable details on Steuben County, IN’s foundation that has made broadband possible for this rural area in Indiana. Before listening to the show, below is a helpful primer from fellow broadband advocate Larry Baumgart.

Community foundations are tax-exempt public charities serving thousands of people who share a common interest—improving the quality of life in their area. Individuals, families, businesses, and organizations create permanent charitable funds that help their region meet local challenges. (Check out the Council On Foundations)

The community foundation should be formed under the auspices of a Community Development Co-operative and could be used to coordinate grant applications and to issue community bonds for open access broadband networks, community media center, schools, clinics, etc.    This can be readily accomplished by transferring public land, worthy assets, into the community foundation to secure bonds which local residents can invest their money, savings, 401Ks, etc. and can not only get interest, but through a cooperative might reap dividends depending on how the funds are used.

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Gigabit Nation Takes the Chattanooga Choo Choo to the Internet’s Future

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internet radio with cjspeaks on Blog Talk Radio

The citizens, businesses and institutions of Chattanooga are living the Vita Gigabit, and loving it. It’s been just a short time (September 2009) since EPB, the city’s public utility, rolled out their fiber network. And an even shorter time since they began offering gigabit service over the network in September 2010. But the impact is far reaching.

James Ingraham

Jim Ingraham, EPB’s VP of Strategic Planning, has been in the thick of things since the beginning of the project. He led the development of the network’s business plan. On Gigabit Nation’s inaugural broadcast (7/27 2:00 p.m. EST), we’ll discuss:

1)    how EPB came to focus on smart grid as a main application of the fiber network, and what are the economic development implications of this decision;

2)    what are some of the cool uses and benefits of the network to date; and

3)    does the mesh network riding over the fiber have the potential to deliver on the dream of municipal wireless from several years ago?

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Guest Blogger Esme Vos: How Highspeed Wireless Broadband (Wi-Fi) Can Help Economically Depressed Communities

As my survey on broadband’s impact on economic development (sponsored by the International Economic Development Council – IEDC) wraps up, I want to spotlight one of the topics covered in the survey. The role of wireless is important, and here’s Muniwireless.com founder and industry maven Esme Vos with valuable insight on why you should consider WiFi in your broadband plans.

The economic crisis has devastated many communities, but the hardest hit are located in regions that have relied on manufacturing and farming as their primary sources of income. How does fast Wi-Fi help economically depressed communities?

There’s no doubt that high speed broadband is a necessity today, much as roads, bridges and railways were in the past century. Without broadband, it is nearly impossible to sell your goods and services beyond the limits of your town. Even porter guides for the Annapurna Trail in Nepal have Facebook accounts to keep in touch with their clients, urge them to come back and refer new clients to them.

Therefore, communities must try to get as much broadband as they can, in the cheapest way possible. Most communities cannot afford to bring fiber to every home even if that is the broadband nirvana that we all aspire to. Since the start of the economic crisis, it has been even more difficult to find financing for broadband projects (outside the federal stimulus grants).

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Tips for Maximizing Service Providers’ Role in Community Broadband

A mantra of self-sufficiency I’m passing on to communities that want better broadband is simple: “If broadband is to be, it is up to me.” With Congress’ latest move to create a legal framework for the FCC to implement its National Broadband Plan, the smoke of delaying tactics and the mirrors of incumbents’ PR trickery portends a rough future for community leaders.

As I stated in RCR Wireless:

The good news is that this issue of FCC authority is going to Congress. The bad news is, this issue is going to Congress where it could easily die the death of 1000 cuts. The best thing that could happen is Congress mandates the FCC, as a regulatory agency, has the authority to make whatever decisions it deems necessary to assure we get better broadband. The probable reality is that a bunch of people who wouldn’t know a byte if it bit them in the butt are going to try to tie the agency’s hands to the point of eliminating their effectiveness.

If it wasn’t clear earlier, there now should be no doubt that to a large extent, those of you in the trenches leading broadband efforts have to grab the bull by the horns to get the solutions you want. With luck, the FCC will be able to craft useful supporting policy to help you. One major component of the project you should address early is private sector involvement.

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