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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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.

Interview with Jonathan Adelstein on New $700 Million Broadband Program

The USDA’s Rural Utilities Services (RUS) recently announced they’re hoping to make $700 million available for broadband projects through the agency’s Farm Bill Broadband Program. While not as substantial as the BIP program, nevertheless this is a sizeable enough payload to make a big difference in a fair number of communities. However, the actual money hasn’t been appropriated yet, so RUS is doing a Notice of Solicitations of Applications (NOSA). NOSA = send us an application to hold your place in the queue so you get money when we get money.

This is strictly a loan program, no grants involved. Big plus – it’s open to everyone including communities and public private partnerships. Other good news is that the baseline for what constitutes broadband is 5 Mbps symmetrical for wireline networks, and 3 Mbps symmetrical for wireless. You can read details on the program here.

I caught up with RUS Administrator Jonathan Adelstein by phone to ask a few questions and get some additional insights into RUS’ latest efforts to bring broadband to unnerved communities. There are a couple of key differences between this and the BIP program, plus useful information to help you get a handle on how to approach the loan process. I’ll have my own analysis here tomorrow.

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National Broadband Strategy Needs A JFK, a Google That Delivers and Competition

“I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal before this decade is out of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.” President John F. Kennedy, 1961.

In July of 1969, the first man walked on the moon and returned safely to the earth. This simple mission statement that galvanized the government, private sector and average citizens to produce awesome results is only 31 words. Where are broadband’s 31 words to move a nation?

This past week I engaged in a lively debate on GigaOm with the National Broadband Plan’s chief architect, Blair Levin. I disagreed with several of his comments in recent interviews I felt wouldn’t be good if adopted into national policy, as well as the Plan’s failure to address broadband competition.

Mr. Levin replied with a column of his own. It’s nice to know that people in D.C.’s circles of influence read my work, but I could see where my messages needed a little clarity as to where he and I both agree and disagree. So I followed up with a rebuttal.

Issues in this dialog are critical as DC tries to facilitate broadband reaching more people. I support the Plan’s core content and recommendation, but see several deficiencies in executing national broadband strategy that threaten the hard work of a lot of great people.

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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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Craig Settles’ Broadband Question of the Day (August 13)

This question comes from an attendee of my Webinar “Finding the Right Business Model for Community Broadband

What is your take on the Google Fiber project?

In my Webinar on business models a couple of weeks ago, someone sent me this question that I didn’t have time to answer in the session. Right after ending that event I saw the first wave of the Twitter tsunami on the Google-Verizon deal before I even saw the question. I figure today’s a good day to tackle this given that a whole bunch of folks are over at Google protesting the new Evil Empire.

First here are my thoughts the day after the Google Fiber announcement in Ferbruary. But you probably want a take on GF in light of The Deal, right?  Ok, here it is.

Forget for a moment the pain of that perceived – ok, actual – knife in the back of net neutrality. Remember the scene from The Godfather 1 where the Mafioso who planned to whack Michael Corleone gets caught? Before they take him on his final ride, he says, “it’s just business…nothing personal. I like Mikey.”

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Craig Settles’ Broadband Question of the Day (July 28)

Today’s question comes from Mike Mathiesen, CEO of America 2.0 Inc.

How would you get the participation of the local merchants?

Getting the merchants involved with your broadband initiative, and I’ll take the liberty to include the entire business community under the “merchant” umbrella, is at once simple and challenging. The simple part of the process is showing them as convincingly as possible that they stand to do well financially in the short- and long-term.

The challenging part typically is creating a detailed picture of what their broadband needs are, then tying these needs to the quantifiable benefits that will result from matching the right set of technologies and services to address those needs. As you take these steps, local businesses will become increasingly vested in the outcome of the project. This in turn means they’ll want to participate –i.e. buy services – on the network you build.

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