The Broadband Lifecycle: e-strategy, planning, and building capacity

By Michael Curri – Broadband networks can create a “platform for productivity, competitiveness and innovation” in your community – delivering the infrastructure to capture economic and social opportunities, some known, some yet to be invented.  Many communities fail during the broadband strategy, build-out and adoption phases as they lack focus and/or sufficient investment of time, energy, and resources.

Too often communities develop strategies based on following recipes from other regions. Instead of uncovering what the needed resources are, or how to leverage current efforts to best serve the specific and unique needs of the community, civic leaders race to “do what they did.”

There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution for successful broadband strategies that bring economic and civic benefits to a region and its citizens. Each community not only has different needs, but different strengths to best leverage the broadband platform. Strategic Networks Group (SNG) has for years been helping governments, at municipal, regional and national levels, to best understand where investment will make the biggest impact – and each and every time the best approach involves following the Broadband Lifecycle, or path to owning your digital future.

Before your community can thrive with its own “platform,” you need to get over the common pitfalls along the broadband lifecycle. In case you missed it, last month we reviewed how initiatives can fall flat because of a lack of focus and/or sufficient investment of time, energy, and resources (demand analysis and pre-planning). SNG encourages all broadband project managers to design and run their broadband initiative with one eye on the Broadband Lifecycle. Click here to review steps one and two.Step 3: e-Strategy & decision to invest

Often the toughest stage – this is where you and your partners in this journey need to ask yourself some tough questions, including – should we proceed?  Obviously, you’ve started the journey, so you believe in the value and benefits that broadband can provide your community. But while you (and your colleagues) may be ready to proceed with building your region’s very own “platform for innovation” – will it be used, will it be sustainable? In short, have you addressed the key factors in the pathway to sustainable success?

Obviously, you’re not asking the “are we ready” question in a vacuum.  A critical component of being “ready” is understanding the investment required – where the it will come from – and what the measurable benefits will be… will they outweigh the costs?

One way to do this is through SNG’s Community Broadband Readiness Self-Assessment, a process that SNG is taking communities through across the United States – most recently in Miami. The assessment tool provides a comprehensive understanding of the relative value of key factors that should be addressed as a pathway to sustainable success.

  The Community Broadband Readiness Self-Assessment Tool is structured around six readiness categories:

  • Leadership
  • Vision and Plan
  • Organizational Stability
  • Community Awareness
  • Implementation Ability
  • Market Profile

For example, the readiness assessment showed that Miami-Dade had a relatively high level of readiness to undertake a broadband initiative.

SNG can help guide you in this phase applying market analytics and our proprietary Community Broadband Readiness Self-Assessment Tool.  By shaping your strategy to address not only broadband for un/under-served areas, but to include applications to drive innovation and efficiencies, we’re able to help establish a strategy to maximize broadband’s benefits. Recently SNG conducted readiness assessments for Miami Dade (FL), Lexington (KY),  Akron (OH), Aberdeen (SD), providing an objective view of the current state of readiness for undertaking a broadband initiative

Step 4 – Build or expand network capacity

This step seems like the most straightforward – but don’t be fooled. While we know that building the network is can be the most difficult step, we all have or are a part of a technical team that specializes in building networks. But there are many implications – that without the right guidance and discipline – could be neglected.

Are your technical and business plans in place to ensure a smooth implementation? Do you have the right provider – and are your requirements well defined? SNG has helped regions in Ontario and partnered with organizations like IBM to ensure the build process runs smoothly, building to the current and future needs of businesses, organizations and households.

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