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.

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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

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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

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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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Posted in Administration, broadband policy, digital divide, digital inclusion, Economic Development, funding broadband, General analysis, Implementation strategies, Legislative action, Making the business case, Managing costs, Needs analysis, public private partnership, Strategic thinking, sustainability, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

How Election Day Can Shape States’ Community Broadband Laws

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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 Communities have decided it’s easier to run referenda elections then getting the prohibition rescinded.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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Do You Have Enough Money for Community Broadband?

The quest for money to build broadband networks is eternal, it seems. The schools, Health and libraries broadband coalition (SHLB) is hosting a webinar to help people on this quest.

shlbTom Koutsky (Connected Nation), John Windhausen (SHLB Coalition), and Nick Alexander (Level 3 come together to tackle the question of how to reduce broadband costs through competition and infrastructure. You also should download a report I wrote last year that helps communities find new ways to fund broadband deployments.

“If you don’t have broadband in a rural area by now, maybe it’s time to rely on somebody other than a telephone company,” Jonathan Chambers, former chief of the FCC’s Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Analysis, stated. “Cable providers aren’t building out in rural areas.” Read More »

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I Get Muni Broadband with a Little Help from My Friends

Particularly if you are in one of those States with restrictions on muni networks, communities could use some help with these friends: electric and other co-ops, and nonprofit organizations. Co-ops are starting to take note and commit to forming plans to develop community-focused (i.e. cheaper, faster, customer-serving) broadband infrastructure. Nonprofits as potential builders, owners and partners with communities aren’t talked about a lot in the media. However they should be.

Here are some thoughts to wet your whistle. These friends are valuable even if your state doesn’t have any prohibitions on community broadband.

Co-ops are your friends

Not only are co-ops good for teaching how to form effective legislative partnerships, they can be great allies on broadband projects. “The City of Montrose is also working on a community anchor institution network project along with others,” says Virgil Turner. “The Delta-Montrose Electric Association (co-op) partnered with our regional council of governments by providing dark fiber to substations near each of the region’s small towns. From the substations, the region is building into carrier neutral location within each town and then on to the anchor institutions.”

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This Election, Take Muni Broadband Fight to Statehouses

In the land that gave the world the Internet, it’s amazing that so many other countries in the world have better, faster broadband. Yet we’ve legislated public Internet networks out the picture in some states. A handful of people hinder millions from the potential benefits of muni broadband.

Stop! Enough already! The FCC tried to beat the states in the courts, but that didn’t work. It’s time this election cycle to take the hardball politics to the state legislative arena where the source of the problem originated.

donttread-econdev-yellow1Communities – support your allies, convert opponents to allies, support your opponents’ opponent. And this doesn’t end in November. Cities need to develop strategies and tactics to establish legislative policies and support even in states that have no restrictions on muni broadband.

My update to “How to Navigate, Mitigate or Eliminate the Impacts of State Restrictions on Public Broadband” offers recommendations you should read. Legislators such as Tennessee’s Janice Bowling and Kevin Brooks, Alabama’s Tom Whatley and others from both sides of the aisle need your help. The incumbents, the true source of these anti-muni network laws, are powerful. But the battles to important give up.

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Communities Determine What Broadband Success Is, Not Incumbents!

Over 500 public-owned networks operate in the United States, according to the Institute of Local Self-Reliance, including 89 fiber and 74 cable community-wide networks, and over 180 partial-reach fiber networks covering business districts, industrial parks and medical and university campuses. Evaluating these networks’ impact on job creation, education and stirring innovation, as well as their financial sustainability, uncovers hundreds of success stories that can be replicated.

A sizeable number of networks have been operating successfully since at least 2003, and some have been operating since the late 1990s. Check out out in our directory (to the left). These communities defined success as meeting the goals that communities used to justify the investments in their networks.

What happens, for example, if a town spends $1 million to build a network, and broadband is one of the main reason three companies moved to town and generate $500,000 in tax revenue? If the citizens are happy and feel tax revenues attributed to the network justify the expense, then that is a successful network. If a rural county’s citizens believe the quality-of-life benefits of highspeed Internet justifies the network costing $100,000 a year, they voted for that, and people are happier because of network-gereated services, then the network is a success.

Stop letting the incumbents dictate the terms of a community’s success. I’m compiling a directory of community network to help broadband teams understand how others measure success. The directory is an or-going project, but some trends are starting to take shape.

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Stand with Tennessee, Tell AT&T To Back Down!

Year ago I was sidelined with a stroke and my blog went on hiatus. But it’s back and issuing a rallying call as Tennessee legislators try to remove that state’s restriction on public- and co-op-run broadband.

Battle flagBroadband community, make your voices heard, make a difference in Tennessee! This law has got to go. Write the Governor of Tennessee. Better yet, call him – 615) 741-2001. Demand these legislators to stand up for their constituents’ right to get the best possible broadband they can, and tell AT&T to get the hell out of away! Call ’em, e-mail ’em, then ask your neighbors to do the same.

Let’s be clear here. Muni broadband is not “unfair competition” by local government. When Wilson’s 12-person IT department several years ago planned, built and managed a network that delivered speeds 20 times faster than the best Time Warner Cable offered, that’s competing with superior technology. When Comcast customers switch to Chattanooga’s 10-gig network because EPB offers far better customer service, that’s competent competition. When tiny Reedsburg, Wis. refuses to compete against the large cable company on price, but beats competitors by offering greater value provided by local management, they compete based on local credibility.

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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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Posted in Economic Development, funding broadband, Implementation strategies, Making the business case, Network business planning, Strategic thinking, sustainability, Tactical thinking | 1 Response

Will Your 2014 Broadband Strategy Embrace Multi-Dweling Units? (pt 2)

Monday I described a strategy Santa Monica used a few years ago to build greater value for local multi-dweling unit (MDU) property owners to offer tenants, increase city tax revenue and generate new sales for the city-owned and operated network. Today I look at a second element of the city’s MDU strategy.

Sometimes smaller is better

While Santa Monica was wooing property owners, they looked in-house and realized that the City owned totally vacant properties around town. They also discovered that at least a dozen angel investors live and work in the city providing seed money to entrepreneurs with great ideas that wanted to advance to the prototype stage.

There weren’t any business incubators, which typically is where a lot of angels park the entrepreneurs they invest in, but there were these empty properties. So the City approached a couple of angel investors with a concept best described as mini-incubators.

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Will Your 2014 Broadband Strategy Embrace Multi-Dweling Units? (pt 1)

As economic development pros and others develop strategies for using broadband to boost their local economies, here’s one strategy you should consider that can achieve this goal PLUS increase the financial strength of the network. Are you selling owners of commercial multi-dwelling units (MDUs) on being anchor tenants of the network?

Analyze Santa Monica, CA’s execution of this strategy so you can repeat their success. The City of Santa Monica’s IT Department built its initial fiber network infrastructure in 2004 primarily to replace the city government’s aging data and voice communication networks, saving $750,000 in the first year. Then they discovered offering services to local businesses attracted new companies and jobs.

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Posted in Administration, broadband policy, digital inclusion, Economic Development, Implementation strategies, Making the business case, Needs analysis, Network business planning, public private partnership, Uncategorized | 1 Response
  • 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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