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National Broadband Mapping: Three Keys to Success

Brian Mefford, VETRO VP of Broadband Strategy

by Brian Mefford, VP of Broadband Strategy

National Broadband Mapping: Three Keys to Success

On March 31, President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion infrastructure plan that includes $100 billion to expand high-speed broadband across the US.

In a recent Broadband Breakfast panel, VETRO’s VP of Broadband Strategy, Brian Mefford, outlined three key elements for states to maximize the impact of these unprecedented federal funds to bridge the digital divide.

1. States and communities must play a central role in broadband initiatives.

“I’m more convinced than ever about the importance of the central role that States need to play in broadband mapping initiatives and broadband programming in general.“

The COVID-19 pandemic brought the need for high-speed internet into sharp focus as Americans in unserved and underserved areas struggled to find ways to participate in work and school. Internet access is now being recognized as the “fourth utility,” and funds are being allocated to expand connectivity.

As the beneficiaries of this stimulus, every state should have the opportunity to play a central role in the planning and implementation of their broadband network. ISPs can collaborate closely with local governments to offer a level of transparency and accountability that will build the strong community support for a more successful execution of the expansion.

This unprecedented funding of broadband expansion is necessitating a shift in the historic relationships between communities and service providers as well.

“We should envision moving from capital scarcity to capital abundance in terms of how these networks are built out. That should bring providers to the table to be true partners as we move away from having to divvy up a small pie a thousand different ways, to have funding available where everyone can gather around the table as equal partners and figure out how to bridge the digital divide most efficiently.”

2. Broadband mapping initiatives have to be driven by good data.

“When we think about good data, it starts at the business or residential point on the map and expands out from there.”

Much has been said of the incomplete state of our national broadband maps, and without a reliable map, it’s impossible to understand the size of the digital divide and the resources that will be required to bridge it. Only when accurate, real-time data becomes available will communities and ISPs be able to identify unserved areas, prioritize, and accelerate delivery of service.

“The capability exists that we have near real-time data about what’s being invested, where that money is going, how it’s being spent, and what’s the status of network expansion.The public expects it ,and we have the capabilities to provide it. It just makes good sense, as the pressure is on more than ever to get networks built.”

3. Providers and communities need the right tools to seamlessly move through network planning.

Tools exist today to facilitate everything from accounting for policy and financing, all the way through network construction and then status reporting and operation. VETRO is not the only tool, but it is unique in its delivery of cloud-based internet infrastructure intelligence so that communities and ISPs are equipped to make data-driven decisions and make the most of the available funding.

As smaller ISPs and communities can not always afford the additional technology, federal stimulus should take into consideration how to equip those communities and smaller providers with the technology that can create greater transparency, accountability, and awareness with the public.

“Other sectors have been using real-time data analytics to drive their decision making for many years. We have the technology in our industry, so let’s bring that to bear where we need it most: facilitating broadband expansion that will really bring a new promise to a lot of communities across the country.”

Want to know more? Get in touch with Brian Mefford to find out what’s possible with the right tools. Click below to schedule a short introduction call today. 

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