From the thriving tech hub of Seattle to the small mountain town of Silverton, Colo., communities around the country understand that broadband access and adoption are essential to staying competitive in the 21st century. A high-speed Internet connection combined with relevant digital skills can unlock a range of opportunities for residents, including better job prospects, access to educational and health care resources, and discounts on goods and services.
As local leaders take on the challenge of expanding broadband in their communities, NTIA is here to help. Our BroadbandUSA program is harnessing the expertise we gained overseeing the $4 billion in grants issued through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). Through technical assistance, regional workshops, guidance and resources, BroadbandUSA is building on the lessons learned from across our grant portfolio to support communities as they seek to build infrastructure, pursue public-private partnerships, or increase adoption.
Our efforts continue today with the release of a new toolkit called Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap. A Community Broadband Roadmap contains a community’s strategic vision and goals, analyzes existing community resources and needs, and guides the tactical plans to realize this vision. An effective roadmap will also identify potential collaborations that can lead to additional businesses, programs and economic growth.
This resource will help public officials, planners, citizen groups and other stakeholders in making their broadband project the best it can be. The core of the toolkit is a six-step approach to creating a roadmap, designed to work with projects of all sizes. It includes best practices identified by BTOP grantees, as well as nine case studies of how different states, counties, tribes, towns and non-government organizations implemented these best practices. Among those featured are:
- The Blandin Foundation, which encouraged broadband adoption in rural Minnesota by identifying local “broadband champions” and supporting them to develop local broadband planning teams and community-focused projects.
- The Nez Perce Tribe, which undertook a gap analysis of broadband infrastructure and service on its 1,200-square-mile territory to and plan a wireless broadband network to benefit residents and institutions.
- The City of Chicago, which created a plan to scale many digital inclusion projects across the City without losing the neighborhood touch.
Whether your community is looking to enhance public computer centers, expand broadband to unserved areas, encourage public-private partnerships, or promote broadband connectivity, the Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap toolkit can guide your process and help ensure its success.
There are more resources available on the BroadbandUSA website, including a Guide to Federal Funding of Broadband Projects and an Introduction to Effective Public-Private Partnerships, which provides information on developing a successful partnership model for broadband investments. We also offer a Broadband Adoption Toolkit that guides the planning and implementation of effective adoption programs with a wide variety of audiences, including youth, low-income families, and seniors.
Upcoming toolkits will dive further into the formation of broadband partnerships as well as address how to implement infrastructure projects and sustain broadband networks.