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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 achieve a robust understanding of the options and deployment choices accessible. Typically missed, 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 presents a practical timeline to fulfill 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 important

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 just a few 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 challenge.

Avoid bumpy road of broadband planningAs important infrastructure, broadband tasks ought to undertake the identical strategy. You’ll profit tremendously by leveraging a nicely thought out collaborative planning mannequin. Your stress ranges will probably be diminished, 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 targets
  • Limiting the scope of the challenge, stopping “scope-creep”
  • Creating devoted milestones to maintain you on observe
  • Offering transparency for all stakeholders
  • Setting a practical timeline to raised plan and promote your challenge.

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 may be extra simply reported, maintaining you and your staff in compliance.

Who ought to lead broadband planning?

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

  • They’re nicely 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 lots of others within the IT trade, really feel these similar state and native authorities leaders can provide probably 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 handle:

  • What sort of infrastructure is required and the place to find it
  • Gathering lifelike information by way of surveys, GIS mapping, and canvassing
  • Building points that will function potential roadblocks or alternatives
  • Understanding potential authorized and upkeep points.

A practical broadband planning course of

To assist our companions in the private and non-private sectors obtain better 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 staff can improve the consolation degree amongst stakeholders, rising buy-in to your challenge. Furthermore, you’ll be taught:

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

Funding for broadband

As much as $800 billion in direct and oblique funding is accessible over the following 5-10 years to fund broadband. This consists of the Federal Coronavirus Assist, 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 could be a problem. As you begin your broadband planning course of, I encourage you to achieve out to the Cisco Public Funding Workplace. Their consultants will probably be glad to assist reply questions and information you thru the funding alternatives that finest suit your wants.

Subsequent steps

A practical and inclusive broadband planning course of, led by state and native authorities personnel skilled in conventional infrastructure planning, may also help you efficiently prolong 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 important providers.

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

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