My Next Broadband Strategy Webinar

Those of you who are new visitors here (and some of you regulars) should attend the bi-weekly Webinar series on broadband strategy planning I’m doing with Broadband Properties Magazine. It’s happening Wednesdays.

If you missed 12 Steps to Move Broadband From Ideas to Execution, check it out today, and also tell your colleagues about it. This session gives you a strong foundation for beginning or enhancing your broadband strategy. The Q & A is quite engaging as well. You can download the PowerPoint presentation to integrate with your planning material.

Here are the details on the next session (July 21). Sign up today!

7 Ways to Make Your Needs Assessment Pay Dividends

A broadband needs-assessment spells the difference between success or failure reaching your project’s economic development, financial and political objectives. An effective needs assessment is the heart that pumps lifeblood into every element of your broadband project, from identifying and recruiting important stakeholders to selecting the most appropriate business model. Learn how to:

  • Target the right audience
  • Determine the right questions to ask
  • Link needs with network sustainability
  • Create a marketing vehicle from your efforts

Let’s see your face in the place. To learn about the whole Webinar series, click here.

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Preliminary Analysis: First Batch of Stimulus Round 2 Awards

RUS, NTIA and the White House yesterday held a preliminary conference call to talk about today’s official announcement of the first batch of NOFA 2 (broadband stimulus) award winners.

No doubt the winners are popping champagne corks and started their 4th of July weekend fireworks early. The rest of the applicants and some of the rest of you probably want to get some sort of word on winners so crystal ball gazers can try to predict how the rest of this funding round will go.

I’ll try to help you out a little. Just last week I wrote an analysis of grants RUS awarded for NOFA 1 in case you want to get a little perspective before reviewing our first hint at what NOFA 2 might offer.

The conference call was a little light on detail, so tune in to catch the word from President Obama to get a broader picture of the program’s progress. But here are some highlights.

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Drive Kicks Off to Move 1000 Communities to Broadband

Weary of the wait for broadband, and wary of Congress’ recent efforts to help, Communities United for Broadband (970+ members) has teamed with Broadband Properties Magazine to empower communities to deliver their broadband future now.

Next week, with the goal of assisting 1000 communities to move forward with broadband projects by 2011, Communities United for Broadband begins a program to give project teams basic broadband planning skills. Watching Congress spar with the FCC over the agency‘s effort to implement its far-ranging national broadband plan, an increasing number of communities believe the only way to get broadband that is sufficient to meet their needs is through local action. However, quite a few are uncertain as to how to proceed.

Pulling lessons from gigabit broadband offered today by Wilson, NC and Santa Monica, CA as well as from other similarly impressive networks, strategy expert and Communities United for Broadband Co-Director Craig Settles helps communities create their best solutions. Starting July 7, his series of Webinars guides project teams through the processes communities must address to be successful, from broadband needs assessment to resolving the myriad political challenges communities face.

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Incumbent Facts May Be Stubborn, but Community Reality Bites

Steve Largent (head of wireless industry lobby group CTIA) had a nice little back-and-forth last week with Tim Karr of public interest group Free Press. The exchange would be a little entertaining if it wasn’t part of a concerted incumbent effort to throttle regulation by painting rosy pictures of the state of broadband.

Brief background. Tim writes an OpEd in the Seattle Times about reclassification. Steve writes a rebuttal flowery with said rosy picture of wireless broadband, dodging an actual discussion of Tim’s specific points. Tim figures, a little off-topic, but what the heck. He engages in this new discussion, poking holes in Steve’s (incumbents’) talking points. Another battle in the War of the Rosies. Steve fires back in righteous indignation, leading with Thomas Jefferson’s quote “facts are stubborn things.”

I gather the incumbents’ PR folks feel they have a catchy one-liner they can run with, so expect to hear this a lot. And every time you do, remember the old bumper sticker “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b.s.”

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The Sorry State of Broadband Competition – And How to Deal

In my 12 steps to move a community broadband project to successful completion, I put heavy emphasis on the needs analysis process. You can’t create the network that’s best suited to meet constituents’ needs if you don’t do this particular task well. But part of the assessment involves understanding the provider marketplace. “It sucks!” may seem 100% accurate, but it’s not a particularly complete analysis.

Assessing what communities need requires understanding what options they already have – or don’t have – to meet those needs. At both the national and the local level, getting a detailed picture of existing service providers and their market share, coverage areas, actual speeds and so forth has been difficult, if not impossible. Yet we must soldier on as best we can.

Whether you create a public-private partnership, convince a telecom company or service provider to offer better broadband or build a public network, this is a business venture. Business ventures require market intelligence.

Last week, data services company ID Insight and I released a high-level report on broadband competition in the U.S. It uses critical, but not private, data pulled from Internet transactions to determine service providers’ market share for each of the 50 states and Washington, D.C. Then we did some fancy statistical footwork to create a standard by which we can measure and rank the level of competitiveness between states.

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Join N Carolina Again in Fight Against Anti-Muni Network Laws

Like a bad rash, Time Warner is back this week trying to stifle municipal networks in North Carolina. Not only that, our less-than-competent-broadband-provider Fairpoint is trying to kill a bill this week in New Hampshire that will make it easier for municipalities in that state to pursue the broadband option of their choice. This is the same Fairpoint, with one foot over the bankruptcy grave and the other on a banana peel of abysmal service, that is fighting a broadband stimulus grant awarded to Maine. Oy!

There comes a time when we supporters of broadband have to throw down, as we say in Oaktown. Get front and center with opponents in the legislative arena by flooding e-mail boxes, phone lines and literally the halls of government to push back against incumbent efforts and push forward the rights of communities to make their own choices for broadband.

Be clear with the message

A little further down I list the names and numbers of legislators on the committee that will vote on the N. Carolina bill Wednesday. Not much time, but broadband activists in that state have a track record of rallying troops in a hurry to descend on the state house. Click here for the particulars of the N. Carolina bill.

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Even Broadband Can Use a 12-Step Program

Last week I announced Communities United for Broadband, a group dedicated to harnessing the enthusiasm for gigabit broadband Google stirred up into a national campaign for community broadband. We believe communities working together can produce higher levels of success for each community.

We’re giving people information they can put into action, links to knowledge resources, discussion tools for collaboration and to help communities move forward. We welcome those who applied for Google fiber, did the broadband stimulus dance – or not – and anyone else who wants practical steps for getting broadband into their communities.

In the past two weeks, together with my co-collaborator Jay Ovittore we focused on cheerleading to get the word out and recruit people ready to make things happen. We’re quickly closing in on 800 members. Here in week three, it’s time to transition to Instruction mode.

I developed 12 main tasks I consider integral to any successful network project, which I detail in my book, Fighting the Next Good Fight. Every week or two, Communities United for Broadband will offer instruction, columns, links and discussions, all of which communities can access, adapt and use to support their respective broadband efforts.

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