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.

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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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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.

Six Steps for Moving Your Broadband Project Forward

Getting faster better is increasingly becoming an imperative. However, as much as stakeholders can see the value of the a highspeed network, the question of how to get from here to there stymies probably 50% of communities. And they can’t get out of the starting gate.

One major hurdle to moving forward is that folks often don’t know what questions to ask and to whom to ask them. Cities such as Chattanooga and Lafayette get calls and e-mails weekly from those seeking help, but it’s hard to keep your own network running if you’re constantly providing startup consulting.

The question asked 90% of the time is, how are we going to pay for a network? This isn’t a cheap adventure. Once the issue of money is raised, politics rears its head in all its local, state and federal permutations that can produce a morass of fear, uncertainty and doubt that further impedes the go/no-go decisions.

To get your communities to stop circling the question of “how do we get highspeed Internet access?” and get off the dime to actually move forward with a project that has reasonably good chance for success, consider the following six steps.

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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.

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