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Broadband Planning: Who Ought to Lead, and How?


As new Federal funding is launched to assist communities bridge the digital divide, you’ll want to realize a robust understanding of the options and deployment choices obtainable. Usually neglected, nevertheless, is the necessity to develop and decide to a practical and inclusive broadband planning course of. One which acknowledges the broad number of stakeholders you’ll encounter and provides a practical timeline to satisfy funding mandates. You’ll additionally want a robust chief. However who ought to lead and what ought to the method appear to be?

Why broadband planning is crucial

As a licensed Panorama Architect and environmental planner, I’ve had the chance to work with state and native authorities leaders on quite a lot of infrastructure tasks. In every case, we created and adhered to an in depth planning course of. The tasks ranged from a couple of acres to 23,000 acres, from roadways and utilities to business and residential communities. Even campuses and parks. In every case, sticking to an in depth planning course of made issues go smoother, leading to a extra profitable undertaking.

Avoid bumpy road of broadband planningAs crucial infrastructure, broadband tasks ought to undertake the identical strategy. You’ll profit tremendously by leveraging a effectively thought out collaborative planning mannequin. Your stress ranges shall be lowered, your stakeholders happier, and the end result extra resilient and sustainable.

Utilizing a collaborative planning mannequin helps accomplish this by:

  • Establishing a transparent imaginative and prescient and objectives
  • Limiting the scope of the undertaking, stopping “scope-creep”
  • Creating devoted milestones to maintain you on observe
  • Offering transparency for all stakeholders
  • Setting a practical timeline to higher plan and promote your undertaking.

Utilizing a collaborative broadband planning course of additionally creates a reference supply for media outreach and promotion as milestones are reached. Lastly, by having a recorded course of, funding mandates or information reporting could be extra simply reported, holding you and your crew in compliance.

Who ought to lead broadband planning?

My involvement in conventional infrastructure planning has allowed me to expertise first-hand how comfy authorities personnel are in main large-scale tasks. Why are they? As a result of:

  • They’re effectively versed in native ordinances, regulatory legal guidelines, and neighborhood requirements
  • They perceive their neighborhood and its folks
  • They’ve established relationships that cross the private and non-private sector.

That’s why I, and plenty of others within the IT business, really feel these identical state and native authorities leaders can provide essentially the most success main broadband planning of their communities.

As well as, these in planning-specific positions are particularly suited to take action, having distinctive ability units that deal with:

  • What sort of infrastructure is required and the place to find it
  • Gathering reasonable information through surveys, GIS mapping, and canvassing
  • Development points which will function potential roadblocks or alternatives
  • Understanding potential authorized and upkeep points.

A sensible broadband planning course of

To assist our companions in the private and non-private sectors obtain higher success of their broadband efforts, we’ve created a brand new information. It outlines a practical, inclusive broadband planning course of, together with recommended timelines and milestones.

A realistic broadband planning process

By leveraging our new information, titled Powering a Way forward for Inclusive Connectivity, your crew can enhance the consolation degree amongst stakeholders, rising buy-in to your undertaking. Furthermore, you’ll study:

  • Key inquiries to ask when looking for funding
  • Concerns when constructing public/non-public partnerships
  • The 5 steps it’s essential implement a robust and clear planning course of (together with recommended timelines and related milestones)
  • Use instances.

Funding for broadband

As much as $800 billion in direct and oblique funding is offered over the following 5-10 years to fund broadband. This contains the Federal Coronavirus Support, Aid and Financial Safety Act (CARES) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Plus, the Infrastructure Funding and Jobs Act (IIJA).

Every program is exclusive, so understanding them generally is a problem. As you begin your broadband planning course of, I encourage you to achieve out to the Cisco Public Funding Workplace. Their consultants shall be glad to assist reply questions and information you thru the funding alternatives that finest suit your wants.

Subsequent steps

A sensible and inclusive broadband planning course of, led by state and native authorities personnel skilled in conventional infrastructure planning, will help you efficiently lengthen safe and dependable Wi-Fi entry to underserved communities, each city and rural. The outcomes can open up a brand new world of studying, financial growth, and supply of crucial providers.

As you begin your journey, we propose the next assets:

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