Helping communities prepare for broadband opportunity

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Friday, June 17, 2022

Weekly Digest

Helping communities prepare for broadband opportunity

 You’re reading the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s Weekly Digest, a recap of the biggest (or most overlooked) broadband stories of the week. The digest is delivered via e-mail each Friday.

Our guest writer this week is Bill Coleman, author of Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Round-Up for the Week of June 13-17, 2022


Bill Coleman

The Roman philosopher Seneca said that good luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. In what the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has called “our broadband moments,” preparation requires bold community leadership that moves a community to gather data and build trusted relationships allowing them to be ready to act when opportunity arises.

President Biden has pledged to make sure that every American has access to reliable, affordable, high-speed internet. Full participation in our twenty-first century economy requires no less. Through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Congress is giving states the support needed to achieve that goal.

The federal government is beginning to distribute billions of dollars to states to deploy high-speed broadband networks everywhere in the country. States, in turn, can only succeed by committing to close and ongoing coordination with the communities that stand to benefit from these unprecedented investments. To ensure their communities are not left behind, local leaders must be prepared to propose and implement projects

Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning ProgramThe Accelerate community broadband planning program educates and supports community leadership teams as they create their community’s broadband vision and goals and pursue the best possible broadband solutions for their area. By delivering the Accelerate process to multiple communities or counties simultaneously through a cohort approach, state broadband officials can provide high-quality education and guidance that empowers communities to effectively spur broadband deployment through a variety of deployment models, including public-private partnerships.

Accelerate is designed to increase leaders’ ability to stimulate broadband infrastructure investments that support community goals such as economic development, telehealth delivery, distance learning, and civic engagement. Active engagement of community leadership is essential so that broadband infrastructure investments meet long-term community needs.

Community broadband planning is complicated. Informed planning requires teams with some or all of the following skills:

  • Understanding current and emerging technologies
  • Navigating the politics of public- and private-sector roles
  • Analyzing financial models, including public-sector programs
  • Structuring public-private partnership agreements

By empowering local leaders with knowledge, information, and a plan, communities will be well positioned to make progress on this significant challenge.

The graphic below illustrates the complexity of the community broadband development process. Program rules are complex, and application timelines can be short.

Complexity of the community broadband development process

The Accelerate program will provide a solid basis for productive and well-considered broadband planning in the face of funding deadlines from federal and state agencies.

The fourteen-week Accelerate program provides leaders a path forward to better broadband services in their communities through:

  • Facilitated weekly meetings
  • Leadership education via archived webinars, expert presentations, and peer group discussions
  • Information gathering, including community surveys, broadband provider interviews, broadband map review, and community meetings
  • Step-by-step broadband planning to:
    • develop a broadband vision
    • understand the local marketplace
    • determine appropriate technologies
    • consider alternative broadband provider partnership models and prospective broadband provider partners
    • identify and seek available funding resources

The community coach provides the framework, the education, and the tools for this intensive program, which combines existing online content (webinar and conference recordings), cohort group learning opportunities, and end-of-program community broadband infrastructure planning consultation. In essence, this is a directed self-help program whereby community teams, with ongoing guidance, move rapidly from team formation to information gathering and policy making to project implementation.

Communities must be prepared for this rapid pace to keep up with the other communities in the cohort and to be ready to present their plans at the end of the program. Community broadband planning is a dynamic process, and communities can revisit and reform strategies on an ongoing basis.

Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program is a collaboration with Blandin Foundation and the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society. This new publication is a guidebook for communities ready to prepare to make the most of this broadband opportunity.

Bill Coleman assists communities develop and implement broadband infrastructure and market development programs. As an accomplished community planner and technology consultant, Bill ensures that communities make sound technology decisions using innovative, collaborative strategies. His facilitation techniques lead to quick victories and sustained effort. He is the author of Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Quick Bits

Weekend Reads (resist tl;dr)

ICYMI from Benton

Upcoming Events

Jun 21—Public Forum Examining the Impacts of Mergers and Acquisitions (FTC)

Jun 21—2022 Wi-Fi Summit: An Inclusive Spectrum Future (Wi-Fi Forward)

Jun 21-22—Broadband Access Summit (Pew Charitable Trusts)

Jun 22—The Limits of Fixed Wireless Technology for Rural Communities (CTC Technology & Energy)

Jun 22—The democratic future of the internet (Brookings)

Jun 23—Public Listening Session on Implementing Initial Findings and Recommendations of the National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force (White House)

Jun 24—BEAD and Middle Mile: Post-NOFO Updates for Anchor Institutions (SHLB Coalition)

Jun 28—How 5G Can Spur Climate Tech Innovation (Information Technology & Innovation Foundation)

Jun 28—Overview of IIJA NOFOs: BEAD, DEA and Middle Mile Programs Webinar (Merit)

Jun 28—Baltimore’s Broadband Movement : A Virtual Event with Community Leadership (Next Century Cities)

Jun 29—What Will Be the Impact of the UK’s Online Safety Bill on Encryption and Anonymity Online? (Center for Data Innovation)

Jun 29—Webinar on Using the Broadband Data Collection System (FCC)

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that all people in the U.S. have access to competitive, High-Performance Broadband regardless of where they live or who they are. We believe communication policy - rooted in the values of access, equity, and diversity - has the power to deliver new opportunities and strengthen communities.

© Benton Institute for Broadband & Society 2022. Redistribution of this email publication - both internally and externally - is encouraged if it includes this copyright statement.

For subscribe/unsubscribe info, please email headlinesATbentonDOTorg

Kevin Taglang

Kevin Taglang
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
Benton Institute
for Broadband & Society
1041 Ridge Rd, Unit 214
Wilmette, IL 60091
headlines AT benton DOT org

Share this edition:

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Broadband Delivers Opportunities and Strengthens Communities