Stirring the Pot June 2013

As originally posted in Blandin Foundation’s Broadband e-News

Stirring the Pot

The nine Blandin Broadband Communities have now received approvals for the projects that they prioritized  and developed through a good community process – good in that it involved lots  of community folks and moved from needs assessment to project planning to  project funding in a relatively short period of time. Now onto coordinated  implementation tasks that will create great events that attract strong  participation. Thanks to these community teams for their great work!

One of the challenges these small teams of community leaders  presented is the abundant and different opportunities to improve their  community.  Should a community work on achieving the state broadband goal  across their entire community, rural areas and all?  Or should  infrastructure discussions focus on bringing Gigabit service to schools,  hospitals, large businesses and government entities?  Or both?

On the adoption side, similar questions emerge.  Should  efforts focus on getting the slowest adopters online for the first time or  should a community implement strategies that will move those already online,  both as content providers and consumers, towards significantly higher levels of  sophistication?  Or both?

As community broadband leaders feel a bit overwhelmed, they  should consider who benefits from successful broadband projects.  Getting  more community residents online certainly benefits the local Internet Service  Providers so getting them involved makes sense. But other organizations  also benefit – more people online increases the opportunities by local  institutions to deliver cost-effective e-solutions in health care, education,  government and business.  I have been a part of recent discussions that  are focusing on the increased costs to health care and education of their  clientele not being connected, either through lack of a capable network or  because of digital inclusion considerations.

Having a great network spurs adoption.  Valued  applications drive adoption.  Reach deep into your community leadership to  spur their engagement in your broadband promotion efforts.  Help them to  understand their value proposition of better connectivity and more  sophisticated users.

More users + more uses = more value for everyone.  The  net result is a better community for all.

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