Taking Next Steps – Practically and Cost-Effectively
SNG recommends the following step-by-step approach for communities and regions to save time and money, as well as avoid many of the classic project pitfalls to ensure sustainable broadband, digital infrastructure, and smart community initiatives:
- Start with assessing the economic feasibility of investing in broadband, digital infrastructure and transformation – do economic and community benefits outweigh the costs over 15-20 years?
- Make a Go / No-Go decision to take next steps. Immediate next steps include assessing your community’s readiness, as well as quantifying potential market demand and potential subscriber service commitments.
- Assess community readiness – engage elected officials, local leaders, and key stakeholders to ensure you have what it takes to get your project across the finish line.
- Assess market demand for broadband, digital infrastructure, and smart community services – is there enough demand to sustain the network and smart community services? Can you aggregate demand and drive commitments (service sign-ups) so you build to committed demand?
- Develop operating model and business plan based on data points and insights from market demand analysis and economic feasibility assessment.
- Make a Go / No-Go decision to invest in design and engineering and prepare for network build.
- Solicit bids for design and engineering.
- Solicit bids for building and operating the network – most communities do not have the capacity nor experience. SNG recommends hiring experts and maintaining ownership of the infrastructure.
- Finance the build based on quantified benefits from municipal cost reductions, subscriber savings, local economic growth, and smart community services over 15-20 years.
- Include in the capital financing of the network 10% for marketing, community engagement, and performance reporting – this will drive digital transformation in the community, which in turn drives service sustainability, local economic growth, and community benefits. With market analytics and data on community impacts, elected officials and economic development professionals can identify evolving community needs, implement smart community services assessed to have the biggest impact on the community, and show community return on investment (ROI) in terms of business retention and growth, GDP and tax base impacts, quality of life benefits, etc.
- Continue listening to and assessing community needs to ensure your community continues to evolve and be a place where people choose to live and work!
This is a process that is cost effective and critical for success. The drivers of this process are economic and community benefits. When these drivers outweigh the costs of broadband and digital infrastructure they become the foundation for investment. This has often been missing in the process and that is why SNG strongly recommends starting with assessing community benefits and the economic feasibility before investing in broadband and digital infrastructure.
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