How can funding agencies get ten times more broadband coverage per tax dollar invested?
– invest in planning and technical assistance
56% of rural businesses and 49% of rural households would likely relocate to get the broadband they need. Thousands of communities risk economic and social decline without broadband. What role can funding agencies play?
No funding agency can make the investment in all of the broadband and digital infrastructure needed, even with matching dollars or public-private partnerships. The best roles for public funding agencies are to help localities plan effectively so that they can support their own investments, or fill digital infrastructure funding gaps where needed, such as communities that are too small or remote to make an economic case for investing.
By helping communities develop approaches and plans for digital infrastructure investments that pay for themselves over time, funding agencies can better leverage their efforts and funding budgets. The up-front planning, design, and engineering is a fraction of the cost of network implementation. By funding the up-front planning and technical assistance, the community can uncover existing budgets that when reallocated can finance digital infrastructure investments. These up-front efforts can be one-tenth, or less, of a total digital infrastructure project cost.
The result – the funding agency help more locally driven projects get off the ground toward success on their own, allowing scarce public funds to be spent more effectively and to help with infrastructure costs for those small communities that cannot do it on their own.