Meeting with Broadband Providers

Community Broadband Playbook

Top Takeaways

  • The role of your committee is to host the meeting, scheduling a date, time and location that is convenient to you, the providers, and other stakeholders. The role of the technical assistance team member is to facilitate, helping to direct the conversation toward a mutually agreeable and beneficial conclusion between community and providers.
  • Making sure all providers have been included ahead of time is critical. Excluding existing companies could lead to legal difficulties.
  • Your technical assistance team member will help you locate and invite providers to your meeting, assist you in designing and arranging maps and other documents for your presentation, directly facilitate at the meeting itself, and recommend next steps after the meeting.

These providers are crucial assets and resources for you, but they also represent your key audiences. After you have gathered evidence of need and demand, after you have considered possible policy changes to make broadband deployment more possible and attractive to providers, and after you have mapped and analyzed your physical, architectural and geographic assets as well as your “human resources,” you and your committee will want to meet with broadband providers, both incumbent (those who already have a presence in the community) and potential newcomers, and present them with your findings.

It is important to include all incumbent and “new,” potential providers. The broadband market is ever-changing, and there is a chance that competing providers will monitor your meeting and other developments, and decide to enter your market area based on your committee’s work and progress. Making sure all providers have been included ahead of time is critical. Excluding existing companies could lead to legal difficulties.

This is another area where the Broadband Infrastructure Office will help you. Regional directors on the technical assistance team have long-term working relationships with many of the employees and representatives of the state’s nearly 100 broadband internet providers. Your technical assistance team member will help you locate and invite providers to your meeting, assist you in designing and arranging maps and other documents for your presentation, directly facilitate at the meeting itself, and recommend next steps after the meeting.

The role of your committee is to host the meeting, scheduling a date, time and location that is convenient to you, the providers, and other stakeholders. The role of the technical assistance team member is to facilitate, helping to direct the conversation toward a mutually agreeable and beneficial conclusion between community and providers. The team member is also working to connect incumbent providers with existing fiber optic infrastructure with fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs), who can reach areas that are not accessible or economically feasible, bringing broadband internet to more remote or sparsely populated neighborhoods and residences.

Your role as a “champion” or community leader is to be a catalyst, an agent who works to bring about change. Working with a member of the Broadband Infrastructure Office’s technical assistance team, you will be presenting to the providers the community’s strong demand and enthusiasm in your community to attract a provider to the project. The role of the provider is to offer expertise, information, potential interest in the project, and technical resources and innovation in broadband deployment.

Remember that communication and cooperation will be key to your success. Your needs as a community seeking broadband and the provider’s needs as a commercial enterprise accountable to its own stakeholders can be aligned so that both your mutual needs and capacities will meet; however, gaining these mutual benefits will require open communication and cooperation.

Fixed wireless providers

Because of the economic and commercial limitations inherent in building and deploying new fiber optic or cable broadband infrastructure, there will inevitably be some neighborhoods and residences that may never receive direct broadband through a wired connection. These are the areas that may be served through fixed wireless. Your inventory of vertical physical assets, such as town-owned water tanks, tall buildings, towers and other features, will be especially useful in considering fixed wireless broadband.

Fixed wireless internet service providers (WISPs) can connect to existing fiber and beam the internet signal from high points, such as the roofs of tall buildings, to neighborhoods that cannot feasibly be reached by fiber optic cable. At the risk of oversimplifying important technical details, this process, known as “backhaul,” is possible when available fiber optic cable can be connected to transmitters located on the vertical assets listed on your inventory. The broadband signal can be transmitted to any homes within line of sight of the transmitter.

The regional directors at the Broadband Infrastructure Office have working relationships with both incumbent fiber optic broadband providers and the WISPs in your area, and can help introduce incumbents and WISPs to each other and facilitate the expansion of broadband through fixed wireless.

PRESENTATION WORKFLOW EXAMPLE #1

This is an example PowerPoint from a provider meeting led by a member of our Technical Assistance team. These meetings typically demonstrate the data gathered and follow with a question and answer session. These meetings include the distribution of flash drives that include survey results, maps with demand and vertical assets displayed, spreadsheets with address data and vertical asset findings, and contact information for the Broadband Planning Committee and Technical Assistance team member.

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Email: Broadband@NC.Gov

Broadband Infrastructure Office
301 N. Wilmington St., Raleigh, NC 27601