How To's

The Guide to Guides: Getting Started


There are a lot of guides and “how to’s” about starting and running a community broadband organization.  To be honest, it’s a lot to sift through and can be overwhelming, at least that’s how we felt when we started looking into the resources currently available on the internet.  In an effort to triage your reading investment, we’ve pulled some of our favorite resources and grouped them by topic… getting started, running your broadband company, and “how they did it” (case studies from other organizations).

This week we will cover some of the good, first step, resources you should be aware of as you are starting to think about starting a municipal or community broadband.

Google Fiber City Checklist
Why we like it: This is a straightforward list that offers some basic, high level indicators on whether your city/town is ready for to invest in a local fiber network.  If you go through this list and find you are missing some of the criteria you have a great checklist work on towards getting your city ready.

What it’s missing: For obvious reasons, this is very Google Fiber-centric. It’s written to prepare cities to partner with Google Fiber.  Utility LINE shared a modified version of this checklist earlier this year that we think has a more robust list of criteria and actions.

Gigabit Communities: Technical Strategies for Facilitating Public or Private Broadband Construction in Your Neighborhood
Why we like it: Once you’ve been through the Google checklist, you realize pretty quickly that broadband is a deep pond and you’ve only dipped your toes in the water.  This is a great guide for walking you through your policy options to facilitate faster and more efficient development of infrastructure.  It also has some pointers on how (and why) to track your assets… something Utility LINE is a strong proponent of.

What it’s missing: If you are planning on building a network and leasing it to someone else to run… there’s not much missing.  If you are planning on running the network yourself, there’s not a lot in this guide that helps you take that next step.

FCC National Broadband Plan
Why we like it:  At some point you will need to connect with other folks outside of your organization.  There are several great organizations (NTIA, FTTH, and Broadband Communities to name a few) and most of these organizations will offer their own guides and resources.  Please explore these options.  Why include the FCC on this one? Well, 1) it’s generally good to stay on top of Federal policy, 2) they offer some tools and resources that can help you make your case when you pitch broadband to your city council or board, and 3) you can glean a lot about the future direction of broadband policy and government goals by reading some of the planning and research documents. Finally, the FCC and other government entities often offer grants to organizations who can forward their policy objectives.

What’s missing: Government resources are often a curious mix of currently relevant, used-to-be relevant, and relevant-in-two-years because they try to meet the needs of all stakeholders.  The challenge is to sift through what’s offered to find the resources you need right now.

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