NTIA congratulates the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) Federal on its release of the Appalachian Regional Commission Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit to help rural Appalachian communities expand broadband service. ARC produced the Broadband Planning Primer and Toolkit in cooperation with the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office as an activity of the Obama administration’s Broadband Opportunity Council.

The primer and toolkit provides information on broadband technology and planning, along with tools and resources to assist with the broadband planning process. It focuses on identifying unserved demand for broadband, forming creative partnerships, and lowering barriers to entry for new and existing providers into underserved markets. It is bolstered by real-life stories of broadband planning and adoption across the Appalachian Region.

Research summarized in the primer and toolkit indicates that 80 new jobs are created for every additional 1,000 broadband users served, and that gaining 4 Mbps of broadband speed can increase household income by $2,100 a year.

“Strong and reliable broadband is a critical tool to help Appalachia reach its potential as the next great investment opportunity in America,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl. “The resources, information, and guidance in this toolkit will help Appalachian communities develop successful strategies to strengthen broadband services and grow their potential.”

Investing in critical infrastructure, including broadband, is part of ARC’s 2016–2020 Five-Year Strategic Plan for Capitalizing on Appalachia’s Opportunities.

Today’s announcement was made during a visit to Zanesville, Ohio, where Gohl and representatives from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) met with local officials to discuss broadband expansion. In August 2016, Zanesville and Portsmouth, Ohio, as well as eight other Appalachian communities across five additional states, were selected to participate in the Cool & Connected planning assistance program to help communities use broadband service to revitalize small-town main streets and promote economic development. Through Cool & Connected, communities will receive technical assistance for strategic planning and implementation support to expand broadband services. Support for Cool & Connected is provided via a partnership between ARC, EPA, and USDA.

Last month, ARC announced $272,000 to help expand broadband services in 10 western North Carolina communities.