The Broadband Team in Jasper County, Texas has completed its community technology assessment. The results of this assessment can be found by clicking the symbol for each of the sections below. The Solutions sector includes recommended actions the community can implement to improve the broadband and technology ecosystem at a local level. It should be noted that much of the assessment was conducted before or at the beginning of the global COVID-19 pandemic. This worldwide event likely impacted many of the metrics included in this assessment.
Broadband access refers to the infrastructure that enables a high-speed internet connection. There are two primary types of broadband connections: fixed and mobile.
Fixed broadband is delivered to a user via one of several technology platforms including cable, digital subscriber line (DSL) over phone line, fiber optics, and fixed wireless. Fixed broadband is designed for stationary use at a fixed location such as a home, business, or institution. From one location, however, fixed broadband service is often broadcast as a Wi-Fi network to connect nearby devices.
The map below shows where broadband is accessible in the community.
Local community policies and a lack of local coordination are often major hurdles to broadband providers, as they work to expand their networks and advance access to broadband services. This solution seeks to streamline this process, by eliminating unnecessary policies, consolidating information, and appointing a single point of contact that can ensure that the community is working as efficiently as possible with providers and gaining access to the networks and services that are needed. All community stakeholders, local governing bodies, agencies, utilities, etc. should meet and identify all of the local policies, regulations, and permits required of a telecommunications provider. These disparate elements should be organized into a set of requirements, and a website established with all necessary forms available electronically and capable to be electronically signed. This group will also appoint a single point of contact (SPOC) for all telecommunications infrastructure development projects. This individual should be the community liaison with providers, assist both the community and the providers through any necessary communications, and work through any necessary issues. As a commitment to this process, the local governing bodies should pass language that requires this. along with agreed-upon times for responses to provider outreach, permit approval times, and authorizes the SPOC.
Provide a framework through which a community can demonstrate that they are a “Digital Ready Community” that has streamlined policies, cleared barriers, and is committed to making broadband infrastructure deployment in the community a priority. Being a Digital Ready community can result in several benefits:
- It provides the community with the opportunity to understand their requirements and makes it easier for the community to assist and work with providers who seek to expand services.
- It gives providers a centralized location to identify necessary regulations, and the opportunity to work with a local jurisdiction to address those regulations in an effective manner.
- Through the Community Broadband SPOC, a liaison is established that helps providers and the community work together and improve communication.
Action 1 - Conduct an initial meeting of involved parties, with a request that any needs/concerns they have related to broadband be brought to this formative meeting.
Action 2 - Hold a second meeting of this group (and any others who were identified during the first meeting) to review the local regulations and requirements, and to discuss any new requirements that may have been thought of.
Action 3 - Hold a third meeting to review the final list of local regulations and ensure that the responsible bodies have the necessary action items to amend those requirements/policies and to identify the Community Broadband POC candidates.
Action 4 - Pass the necessary language in the governing bodies to amend any necessary regulations or policies, as well as authorizing the SPOC according to local law.
Action 5 - Publish the list of requirements along with the necessary electronic documentation as well as the contact information for the SPOC.
Action 6 - Promote the Digital Ready Community site and SPOC, and apply for Certification by completing the application and submitting all necessary documentation
Local government, utilities, planning commissions, zoning boards, other right-of-way managers, etc
Indiana Broadband Ready: https://www.in.gov/indianabroadband/2632.htm
Tennessee Broadband Ready:
Georgia Broadband Ready: https://broadband.georgia.gov/media/4/download
Stark County, Indiana Ordinance for a Broadband Ready Community: http://co.starke.in.us/ordinances/2020/Ordinance%20for%20a%20Broadband%20Ready%20Community.pdf
Public-private partnerships take many forms, limited only by the imagination and legal framework in which the municipality operates. Some communities issue municipal bonds to fund construction of a network, which they lease to private carriers, with the lease payments covering the debt service. Others create non-profit organizations to develop networks in collaboration with private carriers or provide seed investment to jump start construction of networks that the private sector is unable to cost-justify on its own. A public-private partnership should not be simply seen as a method of financing. The strength of these partnerships is that each party brings something important to the table that the other doesn’t have or can’t easily acquire. The community can offer infrastructure (publicly owned building rooftops, light poles, towers, and other vertical assets for mounting infrastructure) for the deployment of a network, as well as committed anchor tenants. Private-sector partners bring network-building and operations experience.
Leverage existing community assets in partnership with private sector carriers to expand broadband network deployment.
Action 1 - Determine Priorities: Competition, enhanced service, equity and service to all, public control over infrastructure, risk avoidance, redundancy, etc.
Action 2 - Examine different models of partnership: Model 1: Private Investment, Public Facilitation: Make available public assets like fiber and conduit, share geographic information systems data, streamline permitting and inspection processes, offer economic development incentives to attract private broadband investment. Model 2: Private Execution, Public Funding: Identify revenue streams that can be directed to a private partner, issue RFP for private turnkey execution. Model 3: Shared Investment and Risk: Evaluate using assets to attract private investment, evaluate funding new assets to attract private investment, evaluate building new fiber assets to businesses and/or homes for leasing to private ISPs.
Action 3 - Understand key legal considerations for localities looking to build a broadband partnership: Review authority issues, understand the legal tools and instruments that could shape the partnership, negotiate the agreement.
Local units of government; Broadband providers; Community anchor institutions; Residents and businesses
Broadband USA's Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships for Broadband Investments: https://broadbandusa.ntia.doc.gov/sites/default/files/resource-files/bbusa_effective_public_private_partnerships.pdf
Building rural broadband from the ground up: http://bit.ly/2dx4MBw
United States Department of Agriculture: https://bit.ly/2yUGikq
To maximize the benefits that wireless hotspots provide, a community must ensure there are enough hotspots available, along with a published inventory of the locations of each wireless hotspot. Wireless hotspots are classified as free or available for a fee. Hotspots are often found at restaurants, train stations, airports, libraries, hotels, hospitals, coffee shops, bookstores, fuel stations, department stores, supermarkets, RV parks and campgrounds, public pay phones, and other public places. Many universities and schools have wireless networks on their campuses as well.
Expand access to broadband by increasing the number of publicly available Wi-Fi hotspots.
Action 1 - Develop an inventory of public Wi-Fi hotspots in the community, a Wi-Fi inventory.
Action 2 - Conduct an analysis to identify key areas and organizations for the expansion of local wireless hotspots.
Action 3 - The local Chamber of Commerce and tourism groups should promote the hotspots to ensure maximum visibility in the community.
Community and business leaders; Civic leaders and organization members; Citizens; Local Government; Broadband Providers; Community Anchor Institutions
Mapping Community Wi-Fi Access: http: //tech.ed.gov/stories/mapping-community-wifi-access/
Community Wi-Fi – A Primer: http://www.cablelabs.com/community-wi-fi-a-primer/
Map of Wi-Fi hotspots in Illinois:
Free Wi-Fi hotspot locator apps: https://www.lifewire.com/free-online-wifi-hotspot-locators-818276
Teleworking offers significant benefits to employers, employees, self-employed individuals, and entrepreneurs. Benefits include business infrastructure savings, emissions reduction, and congestion management. Further, teleworking can help businesses and government agencies reduce real estate, energy, and other overhead costs. Research has shown that teleworking programs can increase an employer’s productivity and enable it to continue operating without skipping a beat in the face of a natural disaster or other emergency that might otherwise bring business to a halt. Teleworking allows employees to lower their commuting costs, and accommodates people with disabilities, the elderly, working mothers, and rural residents who may not be able to work outside the home. It is unlikely that all employees will be able to telework. A good way to start is to identify types of positions or job types that can be performed remotely and initiate a trial period and track results. Get feedback from all involved regarding the benefits and challenges and fine-tune as needed.
Promote or develop flexible efficient and effective work arrangements.
Action 1 - Establish a cross-functional project team, including labor representatives, employers, educators, and other stakeholders.
Action 2 - Conduct assessment of teleworker and organization technology needs.
Action 3 - Identify eligibility criteria to ensure that teleworkers are selected on an equitable basis using criteria such as suitability of tasks and employee performance.
Action 4 - Promote the establishment of teleworking pilot programs among local employers.
Action 5 - Develop a telework agreement template for use between teleworkers and their managers.
Action 6 - Track changes to the teleworking needs among businesses and workers, adjusting the telework promotion to best suit your community’s current and future needs.
Businesses; Business organizations, (e.g., chambers of commerce, economic development corporations, associations, etc.); Citizens and interest groups
Building a Telework Program: https://bit.ly/3bUaNWf
Teleworking Brings Jobs Home: https://bit.ly/2KST8SN
Job Opportunities via Digital Works Come to Cheboygan, MI: https://bit.ly/2So47YF
Publicly Operated Telework Facilities: An Economic Development Opportunity for Michigan’s Rural and Tourism-Oriented Communities: https://bit.ly/2YkoSID