Telehealth vendors have the frustrating experience of seeing their best efforts to serve rural populations thwarted by pathetic broadband connections. Or worse, no broadband at all. At least vendors and healthcare facilities have the benefit of serving urban areas because there, the broadband is always good. Or is it? Urban broadband availability is still a problem. Cities suffer from the legacy of broadband’s origins. Three steps to advancing telehealth networks:
Effective, well thought-out, multi-faceted marketing can make your community broadband network more money and can cost less than sales teams alone. When Marketing work in conjunction with Sales, the network does better financially in the short- and long-term. Let’s use telehealth as an example. My 20 years of marketing work in the high-tech industry had me teaching a lot of folks in un-VC funded start-ups the values and virtues of marketing. It was easy to pigeonhole Marketing as a couple of folks creating snazzy brochures and snappy websites.
[Commentary] Telemedicine providers can’t catch senior citizens when they fall. But health services delivered over broadband can make it possible for seniors to live independently for longer periods of time. For all of the potential that telehealth holds for assisting the aging-in-place process, telehealth’s success rides squarely on the back of quality broadband in the community. Municipal fiber networks can drive telehealth and broadband use. Small towns such as Wilson (NC) and Sebewaing (MI) with gigabit capacity infrastructure, keep subscribers happy.
Public entities like the Federal Communications Commission and state legislatures are supposed to look after the common good. Instead, their policies are making things tougher for small towns and rural areas anxious to improve their connectivity.
[Commentary] On Thursday, December 14, the Federal Communications Commission will vote on a proposal to abolish net neutrality. People who care about rural America’s access to services and information should be concerned. Without net neutrality rules, consumers and the federal government have no way to prevent internet service providers from doing bad things to consumers until after the fact. And because there are no rules, how do you get providers to stop doing bad things to consumers and businesses?
[Commentary] The high rate of rural hospital closures is one factor driving the increasing interest in telemedicine, which uses high speed internet services to connect patients with healthcare providers. What some may not understand is that the push for telehealth may very well be the secret to advancing broadband itself in underserved communities, both rural and urban. By aligning healthcare institutions with schools and libraries that have telemedicine applications and services into a healthcare hub, a community can produce a powerful infrastructure.
[Commentary] Advocates who say local governments and utility cooperatives should have more freedom to provide broadband in underserved areas scored two legislative victories this spring. In Missouri, a bill that would have restricted the ability of cities, counties, or other public entities to run broadband networks was defeated. In Tennessee, the state passed a bill that expands the ability of electric cooperatives to get into the broadband business.
In the battle to deploy broadband, cooperatives (co-ops) can be a decisive force to cover the rural flanks in states with aggressive broadband adoption goals such as California, New York, and Minnesota. In the more rural states, or ones without stated commitments to broadband, co-ops may have to carry the lion’s share of responsibility if their rural communities are to have a hope for broadband. This report helps you make the business case for your local co-ops building broadband networks. It doesn’t give you all the answers but it does point you in the right directions with some questions you need to answer.
[Commentary] In the battle to deploy broadband, cooperatives (co-ops) can be a decisive force to cover the rural flanks in states with aggressive broadband adoption goals such as California, New York, and Minnesota. In the more rural states, or ones without stated commitments to broadband, co-ops may have to carry the lion’s share of responsibility if their rural communities are to have a hope for broadband.
Co-ops ultimately exist to meet members’ needs, and currently there’s a burning need for broadband within communities across the nation. There are two ways for co-ops to address the need for better, faster community-owned broadband networks: the problem-solving approach and the creation-orientation approach. Both can work. But the latter might give you more return on your investment.
[Craig Settles is an industry analyst and broadband strategist based in Oakland (CA).]
[Commentary] Local elected leaders, administrators, public utility managers and community stakeholders are stepping up their advocacy game in response to recent legislative losses. Whether or not a state has municipal network restrictions, any city that has even small aspirations for building a network should have a 12-month public relations plan. In addition to the threat of prohibitions, many state legislatures are pursuing an array of broadband policies, so cities should get in front of these discussions. PR is broadly defined as actions taken to influence a group of people with whom you do business. State legislatures influence cities’ ability to access money, resources and permissions. Subsequently, design a PR plan with the goal of influencing legislators’ hearts and minds regarding community broadband.
[Settles assists communities with developing their broadband business and marketing plans, and help communities raise money for broadband projects]