Finding Community Broadband Funding


Funding forms come in three flavors: a self-sustaining business case, public and/or private subsidization, or a combination of the two. The preferred solution is a self-sustaining solution.

So many times we have been told that there is no business case for rural and remote broadband deployment and quite often upon investigation we find prospective customers paying $60 to $80 per month for satellite TV plus, plus at least $40 per month for a cell phone, and then an additional $20 per month for a fixed line phone service, all with exorbitant initial installation and/or setup fees.  As long as a service provider can deliver similar services, or more, over their broadband network there is more than a business case given technology today.

I advocate establishing a Community Development Cooperative which in turn could establish a Community Foundation, a non-profit through which local philanthropy can be fostered as well as applying for various grants.  Through this cooperative look at cooperative crowdsource funding.  Also, look at the obvious public funding programs, such as municipal infrastructure programs which if you’re going to get funding for sewers you should be contemplating laying fiber as well.

There is no reason why a community should not control and host its own content through a community owned network. For instance, revenue from hosting local businesses websites could be quite substantial.  It is a sorry state of affairs for any community, in particular, any municipality, to leave the importance of information highways, which have become increasingly more critical than transportation highways, to companies outside of the community with no real local vested interest, especially with respect to employment, other than extracting revenue from the community’s organizations, businesses and residents, and spending it elsewhere. It is even a sorrier state of affairs for a community to be perceived as non-responsive to local companies with a vested interest in the community and more than a willingness to invest more into the community.  Lastly, it is the sorriest state of affairs that the municipality does not recognize and expediently address its progressive short comings especially with respect to jobs and revenue.

The community stakeholders, such as schools, clinics, institutions, associations, and libraries are all vital as anchor tenants in local community broadband endeavors; yet, they form they own networks at taxpayer expense.  They could as easily and readily be served through secured virtual networks and truly contribute to the community in other ways.

Most importantly, the development of a community portal is the key, or corner-stone, to the subsidization of community broadband deployment through local advertisements, affiliate programs, mobile applications, etc.  Furthermore, by augmenting the portal with aspects such as a “walled garden” the community becomes empowered through control of local content. 

Think of the social implications of a community portal.  Through a community development cooperative a funding capability similar to Facebook could be set up with purchase credits to foster local buying.  Advertising, affiliate marketing, and community based applications could also generate revenue.  You can have specialized virtual stores.  You can have local stores without storefronts.  You can have big box stores with big boxes.  These all can be achieved through a revirtualized catalogue store in the community which may serve a multitude of other purposes. 

Bear in mind that it is all about content not just connectivity.   You put the best ice cream parlor into the community and people will find a way to get there.  Finding community broadband funding is not like finding Waldo.  The only limiting factor to finding community broadband funding can be found in the mirror.

What Happen$ in the Community $tay$ in the Community!

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3 Responses

  1. Great article – you could also do a community share offer like we are running at the moment http://www.cybermoornetworks.org to raise investment from the local community and those further afield.

    • Thanks for the input! Out of curiosity, why did you not set up the cooperative as a CDC, Community Development Cooperative, and in turn create an enterprise? Basically then you could have two community share offerings, one for the cooperative in becoming members, and another for the broadband enterprise in terms of actual shares which could be useful if there were local broadband service incumbents. Then the CDC’s resources could be used to foster other needed community cooperatives or enterprises. The enterprise could also return dividends back to the CDC which would hold majority control.

      I would really like to hear about your progress and perhaps post a discussion on my Linkedin group, Rural and Remote Community Broadband”, http://www.linkedin.com/groups?home=&gid=1874069&trk=anet_ug_hm

  2. Community share offerings are another variation on cooperative crowdsource funding, https://communitydevelopmentcooperative.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/cooperative-crowdsource-funding/

    Someone always has to put new lingo or parlance to capture market attention, like cloud computing which decades ago was referred to as timesharing before realtors got a hold of the term to sell shares in vacation condos. Now cloud computing, if you’re not doing local community cloud computing, is a way to rob your community of your content, resources, revenue, and empowerment.

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