We often hear from communities that they are getting a lot of emails and phone calls from citizens and businesses about improving their broadband connection or learning how to properly use the internet to get the most benefit.
But the person that they contact doesn’t know how to solve the problem. Often times, they will try but, because the problem that they are facing is so multifaceted, they may not have much or any success working alone in trying to address the needs.
That is where a broadband planning committee can help.
A broadband planning committee is your locally-established team for identifying your community’s needs, prioritizing them and strategically addressing them. This is a group of people brought together who have unique attributes and information that can help put together an action plan that moves your community’s broadband availability and adoption forward.
What are a broadband planning committee’s key functions?
Unfortunately, many of us spend too much time in meetings that are seemingly fruitless. We leave without action items that are oriented toward achieving a specific goal or objective.
It is important to make sure and lay out what some of a broadband planning committee’s key functions might be.
Identifying Community Needs
Without having an understanding of what your community needs, the ability for a broadband planning committee to improve your broadband infrastructure is substantially encumbered.
Whether you survey your citizens and businesses, are in the process of recruiting new businesses, hear from your educators, or any other variety of ways, it is important to make sure that you are getting the information necessary to develop a plan that improves your community’s connectivity.
Usually, the identification of a community’s broadband needs is an ongoing process and changes substantially over time. This is why the types of people that are involved with your broadband planning committee may adjust as you are working through different projects.
Building a local broadband plan
Now, that that is out of the way, once you have identified your community’s known needs, the broadband planning committee is used to identify what your action items should be to begin to address your goals and objectives.
A broadband plan can be done in several different ways. Because your broadband planning committee is oriented around meeting specific goals, one of the most effective ways is to develop a strategy that is specific to one need. Otherwise, a more comprehensive community-wide plan might prove cumbersome.
Developing an actionable broadband plan allows you to identify your opportunities, measure your success, and reassess your future actions.
Demand Aggregation and Plan Execution
Demand aggregation is almost always one of the action items of a broadband plan. However, because it requires a centralized lead on the effort, it should be looked at as a key function of the broadband planning committee even though it might have a single lead who is responsible.
Demand aggregation is one of the most effective tools in attracting a provider into an area that they are not currently serving. It allows you to identify and define the potential utilization and adoption of high-speed broadband services in currently un- or under-served areas of your community.
But how do you do it? Demand aggregation can be done in a number of ways. For example, the most common way is through surveying. If you need help with demand aggregation in your community, please reach out to our Technical Assistance team for more information and help.
The Broadband Infrastructure Office’s Technical Assistance team works with communities to help them develop a broadband planning committee. If you need help identifying those people within your community, please reach out to our Technical Assistance team for more information and help.