Public broadband is the future. When one pictures a smart city – the sort where everything is connected, automated, and AI-driven – connectivity is generally assumed as the underpinning of all that infrastructure. And given that current mobile networks may not reliably support this level of connectivity, the clear solution is to bring cities online.
Unfortunately, there are some pretty significant obstacles to such a pursuit – and different cities are at different levels of preparedness for tackling them.
MUNICIPAL BROADBAND LEGISLATION
At the time of writing, municipal broadband is either blocked or outlawed in more than twenty states – that includes both wired and wireless connections. Largely developed under pressure from certain interests in the telecom industry, legislation ranges from laws that outright make it illegal to those that tie it down in so many regulatory loopholes that it might as well be.
It’s why only 108 communities throughout the United States offer citywide access to the publicly-owned Internet.
Depending on where you’re situated, you might not be able to do a whole lot to overcome this challenge. In some states, you might be able to work with a telecom provider to skirt some of the laws or find loopholes in legislation. In others, however, all you’ll really be able to do is lobby to get the laws changed.
TURNING A PROFIT WITH MUNICIPAL BROADBAND
Another big challenge of broadband wireless deployment is profitability. Your first task before deployment is to determine a profitable business model and a cost-effective service model. Your WiFi network needs to be affordable to everyone in your city, regardless of income or class.
In the long-term, your network can be made profitable if you plan it well. If enough people sign up and start using your public network, it can generate a great deal of revenue for your city in Internet fees alone. It can also create revenue through the enablement of IoT technology, bringing more businesses into your city and creating new workflows for many industries.
DOLLAR MATCHING IN THE BROADBAND WIRELESS MARKET
A private sector organization will, generally speaking, be able to offer incredibly low prices on their services if the market is competitive enough. A broadband network – wireless or otherwise – needs to be able to match those prices. Not only does that require awareness of the broadband market in your city (and the number of competitors present in that city
COMPETITIVE NETWORKING WITH CITY BROADBAND
Another issue that cities often run into is the question of how to offer network speed and security that’s on par with the private sector. Often, cities are operating under some significant budget constraints where network infrastructure is concerned. Unfortunately, that’s no excuse – a municipal broadband network needs to offer uniform speeds throughout the city, and it needs to offer a good enough connection quality that it can compete with the private sector.
It’s a challenge that requires some significant budget juggling, not to mention a fairly high capital investment. How high depends entirely on how extensive your broadband network already is. That’s something that varies by city.
TRANSPARENCY AND YOUR COMPETITION
The big problem when it comes to working with municipal government is transparency. You need to be entirely open about what you’re doing – which means that any organizations who seek to compete with your broadband project will know exactly how to do so. Unfortunately, there’s no easy solution here.
The best you can do is attempt to predict and adapt to their response.
THE REAL SOLUTION INVOLVES YOUR PEOPLE
For all of the above challenges, the best way to address them involves hiring knowledgeable, skilled, and passionate professionals to helm your broadband efforts. With the right people on your side, you can kick off a broadband project that’s ambitious, organized, and ultimately successful. Here’s where TD Madison comes in.
With three decades of experience as a provider of executive recruitment, technical training, and staff augmentation to the cable and broadband industry, TD Madison is an ideal recruitment partner for cities and towns that want to take control of their wired and wireless connectivity. We’ve worked with many cities in the past – currently, we’re helping Fort Collins. Maybe your city will be next.
Tune in next time, when we’ll go into greater depth about how your project can find the right professionals to guide the future of broadband in your city.