Broadband Needs Assessment and Planning for Community Anchor Institutions
Conducting an inventory of the locations and speeds of existing broadband networks for CAIs – and identifying gaps in broadband coverage – can help target investments to areas most in need. This paper urges policymakers to gather detailed, granular information about the availability and use of high-capacity broadband services needed by CAIs, rather than relying on outdated or generic claims that an area is already served by existing providers.Read Full Policy Paper
Recommendations for Action
To develop a broadband plan, federal, state, and local policymakers should:
- Allocate funding to states and local governments to help engage in broadband mapping of networks available to and used by CAIs.
- Gather information in a consistent manner to help state-by-state comparisons of results.
- Establish national standards and a national repository for state and local broadband assessment data to ensure data consistency and avoid duplicative efforts.
State and local governments should:
- Gather local, granular information about the availability and use of broadband services by CAIs, rather than relying on general industry claims.
- Identify the CAIs in their region
- Survey CAIs about their broadband needs and level of satisfaction with existing broadband services
- Evaluate the broadband services available to their local CAIs from existing broadband service providers
- Establish a reasonable timeline for serving the CAIs that are most in need of additional broadband investment
- Work with partners and all stakeholders to consider aggregate solutions to maximize the efficiencies of shared networks and community needs;
- Work with private sector broadband providers to understand where they plan to expand and how they can facilitate the broadband plan
- Develop a broadband plan that includes financial models, a review of government and regulatory requirements, testing, and timelines for sustainability.
Several organizations have produced planning materials that may help communities evaluate their needs. Plans from these organizations can serve as a model for other communities.
- Kathleen McMahon, Ronald Thomas, Charles Kaylor, Planning and Broadband: Infrastructure, Policy, and Sustainability, American Planning Association (July 1, 2012) https://www.planning.org/publications/book/9026893/
- Colorado Governor’s Office of Information Technology, “Broadband Mapping” http://www.oit.state.co.us/strategy/broadband/broadband-mapping accessed June 16, 2016.
- Connect Michigan, Final Grant Report (March 2015) http://www.connectmi.org/final-grant-report MoBroadbandNow, “Regional Planning,” http://mobroadbandnow.com/regional-planning/ accessed June 16, 2016.
- The Nevada Broadband Task Force and Connect Nevada, State Broadband Action Plan (November 2014) http://www.connectnv.org/sites/default/files/connected-nation/Nevada/files/nv_broadband_plan_final.pdf
- Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, “Utah Broadband Outreach Center,” http://business.utah.gov/programs/broadband/ accessed June 16, 2016.
- West Virginia Broadband Mapping Program http://www.wvgs.wvnet.edu/bb/grants.html accessed June 16, 2016.
- Wisconsin State Broadband Office, “Connecting Wisconsin to the World” http://www.link.wisconsin.gov/ accessed June 16, 2016.
- NTIA's "Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap: A Toolkit for Local and Tribal Governments"
- National Broadband Map - interactive website that allows users to view broadband availability across every neighborhood in the U.S.
- National Center for Education Statistics maintains a database of public and private schools, as well as colleges and universities
- IMLS database - directory of public libraries
- American Library Association Library Factsheet
About the Author
Kelleigh Cole is the Director of the Utah Broadband Outreach Center in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development. In her current position, she leads an effort to work with broadband providers and other stakeholders across Utah to develop strategies to increase Internet access for all Utahns. She was the principal author of the state’s first broadband plan and works with communities statewide to help them improve services. In 2011, she helped organize the Utah Broadband Advisory Council.
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Larra Clark, American Library Association
Adrianne Furniss, Benton Foundation
Kevin Taglang, Benton Foundation
Bob Collie, ENA
Lil Kellogg, ENA
Rex Miller, ENA
Susannah Spellman, Internet2/USUCAN