Investing in Broadband for Your Community

Deciding to own your broadband future is critical. Making the investment decision that is right for your community makes it happen.

There is a reason that many communities continue to have residents and businesses that are unable to access adequate broadband services. These unserved (no broadband) and underserved (poor quality broadband) areas remain primarily because the business case for private sector ISP investment is insufficient. Private sector investment is drawn to opportunities for higher revenues and profits.

Changing the broadband status quo requires community leaders to take control of their own broadband future, recognizing broadband as essential infrastructure for their citizens. Community leaders need to evaluate the ramifications of continuing with the broadband status quo versus investing in broadband infrastructure for the betterment of the community. For more on this topic read our article How can municipalities take control of their broadband future?

Investment priorities for your community

With limited budgets, all communities and regions are challenged in how to allocate scarce resources among various interests – especially when those interests appear to be competing. Community and investment priorities need to be understood so that local leaders can make the best decision for their constituents. Broadband and digital infrastructure investments are now part of this process.

When the value of broadband and digital infrastructure is not clear, nor quantified in terms of community and economic development benefits, the consequence often is an under-investment. Broadband needs to be understood as an enabler, not as an end in itself. SNG’s research shows that the majority of businesses, organizations, and households do not understand the potential value of broadband and applications enabled by the internet can have. What has been missing and what is needed is a way to personalize the return on investments in digital connectivity to communities, businesses, and residents.

SNG has developed an investment framework for broadband as an enabler of community and economic development goals. It is based on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by 193 countries in the 70th UN General Assembly in 2015 for governments, businesses, civil society and the general public to work together to build a better future for everyone. SNG has adapted a subset of the SDGs that are applicable to industrialized countries in an increasingly digital economy.

Making the broadband investment decision

For municipalities and other local government administrations the decision to invest in broadband infrastructure often requires making choices within limited and constrained budgets or seeking additional sources of funds. This decision requires a clear understanding of both the investment required and the beneficial outcomes from that investment. The costs and benefits need to be estimated to a degree that the right decision can be made with confidence.

When considering investments in broadband infrastructure community leaders have an opportunity – even an obligation – to look beyond the typical private sector business case toward the broader community benefits for sustainable development. These benefits include:

  • Cost reductions for municipal services as well as vital community institutions, such as schools and libraries.
  • Cost savings for residents and businesses that make broadband more affordable, increasing broadband access and use.
  • Economic growth opportunities driven by the availability and use of improved broadband services across the community.

In addition to these quantifiable benefits the improved broadband opens up new opportunities for innovative municipal services, including smart city services, for the benefit of citizens. The overall improved vitality of the community can have further positive impacts on property values and local taxes.

What kind of broadband investment?

An increasing number of municipalities have chosen a path to build and operate their own municipal broadband networks or have done so through municipal utility networks. While building and operating a network as a broadband provider is one solution, it is not the only option available to community leaders. Establishing the right broadband infrastructure in the right way, considering all the factors, leads to sustainable, long-term solutions. The right solution and its costs need to be consistent with the benefits that will result from the investment.

SNG has applied our unique and extensive research and experience to assist community leaders in evaluating the costs and benefits beyond the business case to reach the right investment decision.

Evaluate Broadband Benefits

Evaluating broadband’s costs and benefits is the first critical step toward owning your broadband future.

Learn how SNG’s Economic Feasibility Assessment can quickly and affordably get you to the right broadband investment decision.

Assess Broadband Demand

Clearly identifying demand for improved broadband is a critical element in planning your broadband project.

Learn about SNG’s unique Market Assessment and Economic Baseline tailored to your broadband strategy to optimize your success.