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

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Moving the Needle Forward on Broadband & Economic Development

August and September, in partnership with the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), I conducted a national survey of IEDC members and others affiliated with IEDC. The primary goal was to get a snapshot of how broadband impacts local economic outcomes. A secondary goal was to gather some insights to leveraging broadband as an economic development asset.

This is the only survey that goes directly to the people who work in the trenches daily impacting local economic outcomes. Here is where I separate some of the hype surrounding broadband’s power to transform local economies with some reality checks. Some of the findings from this year’s survey include:

  • only 11% of economic developers believe broadband’s biggest economic benefit to individuals is helping them find jobs;
  • 18% of respondents have insufficient speeds to produce economic outcomes listed and have given up hope for a solution; Continue reading

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.

Igniting a Fire Under US Broadband

Yesterday the White House announced two major developments. First, President Obama today will sign an Executive Order that mandates all the agencies managing Federal properties and roads create a uniform approach for allowing broadband carriers to build networks on and through those assets. This “build once” strategy should save an estimated 90% of the typical network infrastructure buildout cost.

Today also marks the launch of US Ignite, a long-developing project that brings together 100 or so public, private and nonprofit organizations in an effort to pool/integrate resources to streamline gig app development nationwide. It’s a little complex, but the gist of it is: build a bunch of gig network testbeds, unite university and community creativity, supplement it with private vendor contributions and churn out a bunch of apps, some of which are bound to be winners. In the end, broadband gets deployed faster coast to coast.

Both efforts have potential to turn out some pretty cool advancements in the U.S.’ march to nationwide broadband connectivity that yields the technology’s many promised benefits. As with everything involving politics, policy and money, the results can be a mix of the good, the bad and the unexpected. It’s all about execution.

Here’s my preliminary take on these announcements. Later today on my Gigabit Nation radio show, I interview a number of leading players within the US Ignite partnership to give you some additional insights from those intimately involved in the program.

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Outspent 60:1, Longmont Kicks Comcast’s Assets

Comcast and its allies spent $300,000 to unleash every trick and tactic in the campaign playbook to try to kill a measure that gives Longmont, CO citizens and businesses the right to pick their own best broadband solutions. Measure 2A supporters spent $5,000, if that.

Yea though we walk through the valley in the shadow of Comcast’s desire to annihilate our communities’ right to choose our best broadband solutions, we hold our fear in check and engage the foe because we believe it is possible for the underdog to win.   

I made that up last night as I headed out to prep one of my soccer teams for our biggest game of the season. I was feeling pumped after receiving the news that Longmont, CO’s Measure 2A was on its way to victory. The underdog had stood tall in the face of a huge corporation’s relentless efforts to buy a local election rather than compete in the free market. However, despite being outspent 60 to 1, Measure 2A won with 60% of the vote.

There are some valuable lessons for other communities to learn from Longmont’s duel with a corporate giant hell-bent on leveling all opposition in its path – and win. Some communities that have broadband dreams of their own, particularly those in Colorado, have watched the battle to gauge how things might turn out in their particular towns and counties. These elections are no walk in the park, but as we see, they are winnable.

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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?”

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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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