Local development districts have the capacity to manage broadband grants and/or build coalitions, but they may lack the foundational knowledge of the subject matter to get started. This web tool will orient LDD staff as they build knowledge of the broadband deployment field.
The Roadmap takes readers through each step of the broadband development process, from establishing strategic leadership to exploring funding opportunities. DDAA has compiled databases on broadband grant opportunities and broadband availability mapping tools that will help to scope, fund, and complete projects. Finally, case studies featuring best practices from a variety of experts add context and color to the Roadmap.
Poor broadband connectivity is a major barrier to economic and community development in rural areas. Over recent years, Americans have increasingly relied upon internet connections to communicate, access services, and share information. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has only increased Americans’ reliance on the internet to attend school, visit a doctor, and go to work. Yet millions of Americans, many of them rural residents, lack access to a decent internet connection.
According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), 14.5 million Americans, and 13% of Americans in rural areas, still lack access to a broadband internet connection. Many researchers insist that federal government data significantly understates the extent of the problem, suggesting that the real number of Americans without internet access is closer to 42 million. Rural broadband development has entered the national conversation and spurred rural communities and the Federal government to start working towards the goal of universal broadband in their communities.
This website builds on rural broadband deployment resources from public, private, and non-profit sources. To capture what actions state governments have taken to promote rural broadband locally, we reviewed all available broadband plans from ARC states, including technical state guidance documents such as North Carolina’s Community Broadband Planning Playbook. Expanding our review outside the region, we leveraged Pew Charitable Trusts’ 2020 report on state broadband access to identify innovative state and local practices outside of Appalachia.
We supplemented these resources with publications from prominent non-profits that support local broadband deployment, such as the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, Next Century Cities, and BroadbandNow, identifying best practices and case studies at the local level. Finally, our team utilized reports and policy papers published by technical assistance practitioners and academic researchers to better understand the collection of laws and regulations that dictate broadband deployment across the country. This research was used to develop the local broadband deployment framework that will be presented in the next section.