Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program

Written by Bill Coleman

With billions of dollars flowing through states to achieve universal broadband and digital equity, this guidebook will help local leaders ensure their communities are not left behind. The 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 Accelerate guidebook is a collaboration of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society and Blandin Foundation. Blandin originally designed the Accelerate Program for Minnesota, creating many of the tools shared in this guidebook. The Benton Institute is implementing the Accelerate Program in Illinois and other states with the support of Heartland Forward and its Connecting the Heartland initiative.