The Dollars & Sense of Telehealth for Community Broadband

“Our remote patient monitoring telehealth program has saved the hospital $2.7 million by reducing chronic care patients’ returning to the hospital or needing to go to the ER,” says Lisa Hogan, RN, head of Chronic Care Management Program for Frederick Memorial Hospital in Maryland.

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“Studies of hundreds of our patients six months before and six months after they start this program confirms the financial benefits. We have a few patients as young as 35 year. But many of them seniors with our eldest patient being 100.”

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Remote patient monitoring (RPM) is one of the more popular telehealth applications. It can enable seniors to add years to their ability to stay in their homes or possibly moving to a nearby senior facility. This will keep a community’s senior ecosystem active and seniors can still maintain a social and economic role within the community.

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Posted in Broadband map, digital divide, digital inclusion, General analysis, Making the business case, Telehealth | Leave a comment

Creating the Future Of Community Broadband: A 2019 Economic Development Study

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The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and started surveying government economic development officials about community broadband’s effect in 2006. Each year the survey has illuminated both the challenges and the benefits of community networks.

This is just a short summary of the complete analysis report. The full report is due mid-July.

What does IEDC the 2019 survey reveal?

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Every survey starts with IEDC members highlighting the lay of the land in terms of wireless and wired broadband networks. For the first time, this year’s survey respondents offer feedback on the roles of wireless and co-ops in community broadband.

Almost 40% report they are living in a broadband monopoly (18%) or a duopoly (21%) with one major cable company and one major telco and little or no competition within either realm.

11% of economic development pros feel that WISPs carry the bulk of the broadband load in their respective communities. 37% of survey respondents report that local co-ops have plans to build wireless broadband structure, and 35% say that co-ops in their jurisdictions are planning to deploy fiber infrastructure.

This year’s survey examines three critical issues: 1) availability; 2) affordability; and 3) the FCC definition of broadband speed – 25 megabits per second (Mbps) download speed, 3 Mbps upload speed. 41% of respondents say maybe half of their residences have broadband available to them, and 13% of respondents say 20% or less of the residents in their jurisdictions can get broadband.

When asked what was a major obstacle to residents gaining access, 52% responded that broadband in their area “costs too much.” 28% of economic development pros feel their constituents are charged too much and see too little value, while another 27% feel that broadband in their area is so expensive that “many can’t afford to buy.”

How does broadband generate local economic benefit?

Every year, “searching for a job“ is the least valuable impact on the individual. This year, according to the pros, the top two benefits are improving indivuals’ job skills (29%) and reaching higher education levels (26%). Two different goals requiring two different sets of broadband tactics.

For years the broadband industry focused on download speeds when in reality many applications require as much or faster upload speeds According to the FCC, that’s 25 Mbps download, 3 Mbps upload.

Across the board, the many survey respondents say 100 to 120 Mbps symmetrical is the needed speed for generating economic outcomes. The much sought after gigabit is more of a factor in attracting new business to town and making current businesses more competitive. It is less so with attracting new homeowners or enabling libraries to maximize their services.

Economic development pros are bullish on telehealth as an economic engine. They see economic benefits using community broadband to create telehealth hubs. Healthcare facilities would be the hubs. Anchor institutions such as libraries and senior centers would spread telehealth on broadband “spokes” throughout a community. The survey indicates these hubs could create healthcare outcomes that directly or indirectly impact local economies.

Shifting gears again, respondents weighed in on economic issues related to using community broadband for K-12 education. 43% reported that less than half of the kids in their area don’t have Internet access at home, and 12% responded that 20% or fewer of the kids in their jurisdiction don’t have home access.

Because using community broadband effectively in education requires more than just laying fiber and wireless access routers in the ground, respondents’ communities are implementing additional tactics to impact success: 39% are addressing parents’ and teachers’ digital literacy, 33% are attacking the Homework Gap directly, and 36% are pursuing broadband AND education grants.

All of this and much more are included in the final survey analysis. So stay tuned.


I want to thank my partner IEDC who has made this survey possible since 2006, and also ETI Software for being a valuable sponsor of this project. We’re looking for one more to round out our team.

See my presentation at Mountain Connect:
Telehealth: The Next Big Thing in Community Broadband
June 26, 1:30 pm – 2:15 pm, Qaundry Peak 3

About ETI Software:
ETI Software Solutions specializes in operational software for service and subscriber provisioning, network configuration, inventory control, and performance management for broadband service providers. Its Vision360 software is designed for fiber network operators, including municipalities, utilities and electric co-ops. Vision360 features seamless order entry and work order management, automated service provisioning, device inventory and device management, comprehensive network management tools and advanced visual analytics to help maximize revenue.

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New Funding Source for Telehealth and Community-owned Broadband

To meet the heightened demand for telehealth and community-owned broadband, National Community Development Services, (NCDS) Inc. teamed with community broadband expert Craig Settles to raise millions for telehealth and broadband infrastructure.

NCDS has raised over $1.7 Billion for 600 communities in 46 states since the company started economic development fundraising in 1977. NCDS has staff experience and fundraising experience in healthcare.

Mr. Settles is responsible for the needs assessment and pilot testing during community engagements. NCDS manages the fundraising for broadband and telehealth infrastructures. This team also does fundraising for communities that just want the broadband assessment, pilot, and infrastructure.

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Chattanooga Muni Network Trials Telemedicine for Subscribers

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

You can’t have great effective telemedicine without strong Internet connections, the stronger the better. In the other camp, community broadband network owners (cities, co-ops, WISPs, rural ISPs) need creative marketing strategies to ensure their financial sustainability. However, especially among this qualities and co-ops, they may not be used to operating in a competitive environments.

Luckily, there are telemedicine vendors and community network owners stepping up to become trailblazers by establishing marketing partnerships with each other. They are discovering there might be gold in them thar cyber hills.


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When Telehealth and Broadband Collaborate on Policy

I delivered a webinar presentation hosted by Vsee, a telehealth Solutions vendor. The gist of my presentation was, there can only be great telehealth where there is great broadband. Subsequently, effective broadband policy facilitates telehealth and vice versa.

Here are some links to resources, policy and advocacy groups and articles that supplemented my presentation. Feel free to send me additional items that should be included in this list.

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Tennessee, Colorado move to repeal anti-muni network laws

Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam stated yesterday he has legislation to remove restrictions that prevent co-ops and municipalities from owning broadband networks. The governor will formally present this legislation to state legislators who will meet, discuss, probably edit, and hopefully pass it into law.

Co-ops would be permitted to build networks, and municipalities could partner with co-ops in moving these projects forward. Municipalities could offer broadband at a wholesale level to cooperatives. “At that point, the cooperative could provide retail broadband service to individual customers who may be outside a municipality.” In addition to allowing electric co-ops to provide telecom services, State Sen. Janice Bowling has introduced legislation to allow municipal power utilities to expand services across Tennessee.

Battle flagGovernor Haslam joins a growing number of governors, legislators, and community leaders working to reduce or eliminate legislative restrictions on community- and public private partnership-owned networks. It has been a long righteous battle and often 21 states had to find work-around for restrictions that legislators imposed.

The various governors and legislators committing publicly to building more broadband infrastructure are turning the tide on efforts to repeal or negate the effects of anti-muni network laws. It is difficult to lead the charge for increasing deployments when you have laws crippling community broadband.

State Senator Lucia Guzman drove a repeal effort in Colorado last year and is doing it again this session. Here’s the formal paperwork. The hearing for the bill is February 13 in the Business, Labor, & Technology Committee. I’m not sure if or when a hearing will be held in the State Assembly. Read More »

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Virginia’s Community Broadband Successes Give Truth To the Incumbents’ Lie.

Like an avenging angel of doom, state legislator Kathy Byron (R-Campbell County) blew into the opening session of the Virginia legislature bearing an incumbent-sanctioned (and probably ghost-written) anti-Muni network bill. As the Roanoke Times states, “In the spirit of naming bills the exact opposite of what they would do, her so-called “Virginia Broadband Deployment Act” would actually make it harder to extend broadband to areas that don’t presently have it — or don’t have enough of it.”

Battle flagIn response, the forces of community good saddle up and ride into battle, a battle that includes debunking the usual array of incumbents’ lies and distortions about muni broadband. Bristol Virginia Utilities’ public-own broadband execution wasn’t pretty, but incumbents try to paint every community network with the same brush, which is deceitful and silly. Consider these four Virginia success stories from over a dozen cities and counties. Read More »

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Fiber & Wireless – Stronger Together for Community Broadband

Google in June stunned some in the broadband world by acquiring wireless provider Webpass and “momentarily” exiting the fiber stage. Hybrid wired/wireless networks became the Next Big Thing – for a month. But what if hybrid infrastructure is the key that unlocks the doors to the next level of community broadband success?

Report coverMy new report, “Fiber & Wireless – Stronger Together for Community Broadband“, makes a business case for hybrid infrastructure by assessing community broadband in a historical context, as well as the capabilities of today’s fiber and wireless. I’ve included past and current projects since they can teach us how to get more value from broadband technologies that communities use.

Wireless in broadband has been deified, vilified, misunderstood, hyped to holy heaven, and in some circles, just plain ignored. To many, fiber can do no wrong, only become faster. Then came gig fiber. No, wait, now there’s gig wireless. We need a reality check!! We’re too fixated on speeds and feeds, bits and bytes. Read More »

Posted in Administration, broadband policy, digital divide, digital inclusion, Economic Development, funding broadband, General analysis, Implementation strategies, Making the business case, Managing costs, Needs analysis, Network business planning, Strategic thinking, Tactical thinking, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Resources/Interviews to Make Community Broadband More Successful

I showbbc-summit-sign-smaller you what community broadband success is. Besides executing effective needs analysis that enhances communities’ feasibility studies, my writings and radio show help you make sense of the business of broadband, the never-ending industry hype, and the craziness of broadband politics.

Here’s a little light reading and easy listening. I’ve accumulating a huge amount of broadband lessons, stories and resources that can help you, your staff and your private and nonprofit partners. Over the holidays or down time in trains, planes, and automobiles, you might find some “catch-up time.” Enjoy.

Community Broadband Snapshot Reports

These qualitative analysis reports help community stakeholders make better decisions and build networks that better meet constituents’ needs. They combine communities’ experiences, perspectives and insights. The reports tackle states’ anti-muni network laws, new sources of broadband funding, broadband’s impact on economic development and other vital topics.

Gigabit Nation

In over 230 archived interviews since 2011, I explore broadband issues, policies, and community broadband success stories. Guests on the show include mayors, broadband project leaders, government agency leaders and managers, public advocates. It’s a resource that keeps on giving – and growing.

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How Election Day Can Shape States’ Community Broadband Laws

26 Colorado communities most likely will pass referenda this week to get back their rights to build public-owned broadband networks. Communities have decided it’s easier to run referenda elections then getting the prohibition rescinded.

A grassroots drive led by Wilson, NC and two state legislators will take on that state’s prohibition against community broadband. A win by the Democratic governor candidate, and electing some new Democratic legislators could definitely improve the grassroots’ efforts chances of success.

voteIn Tennessee and Alabama, several Republican legislators are gearing up to aggressively tackle their respective state prohibitions against public broadband. We should expect to see some major grassroots drive in Tennessee. The legislature most likely will remain Republican after election day, but who wins those legislative seats in rural areas will heavily influenced the outcome of that fight.

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  • Who’s Craig Settles?

    Industry analyst, expert broadband business strategist, runs on-site workshops to help clients create effective broadband plans.

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