Prospective RC Broadband Project Planning Overview

Roane County Broadband Planning Project

Most of these scenarios will involve a similar internal planning process…

Next Steps

Broadband Work Group:  As of July 28th, final work for the Broadband Work Group includes:

  • Discuss this project with neighboring counties, gather information on planned or potential projects.
  • Prepare a letter to the BEC, expressing Roane’s interest in forming a county-wide non-profit broadband co-op and to join the State Pilot Project. Try to get two neighboring counties to sign-on or write similar letters. At the meeting get details on the State Pilot Project process and an open line of communication with BEC.
  • Expand placeholder site with updated report content, when ready email announcement.
  • Recruit more people to help and join the committee.
  • August 10th meetings: BEC, 0900 (to ~1100), State Capitol, Build 3, Suite 800 Conference Room. RCC, 1745 (to ~1900), County Commission Hearing Room, Roane County Court House, Spencer.

Broadband Committee:  As of July 28th, initial work for the Broadband Committee includes:

  • Organize Broadband Committee, update website (again), update reports, etc.
  • Recruit more people to help and join the committee.
  • Meet with all anchor institutions, county offices, related entities, large employers, and tech companies. Document their needs, “base load” network traffic to expect, resources they can contribute (cost share, long term service fees), and recruit project support, including joint promotional efforts.
  • Survey all households and businesses, to get an initial understanding of broadband needs, existing service, preliminary interest in a broadband co-op, etc. This will be done via a lot of volunteers surveying their neighbors, so it will be a test of volunteering too.
  • Plan feasibility study, in cooperation with Mid Ohio Valley Regional Council.
  • Plan early broadband access sub-project (see sub-section further below).
  • Plan community portal sub-project, recruit someone to work on it, devise a simple short term business model to pay them something.
  • Continue discussions with neighboring counties and BEC, don’t simply wait for a State Pilot Project decision, but that’s the next big decision.
  • Officially form broadband co-op, could be done as soon as project seems viable, or as late as completion of feasibility study, but should not be done prior to State Pilot Project decision.


Government, Anchors, & Business Meetings

Meetings with county government & agencies, local state agency offices, community anchor institutions, and larger businesses. In most case studies they are major participants, and in some cases are a majority of the project, funding most or all of core network construction. For each one gather details on their current service, if its under contract, expected future service needs, technical requirements, funding or budget, and how they can support the broadband project. For different types there are more features or considerations seen in case studies to discuss…

Government & Emergency Services:  Its common to reserve fiber strands to create a physically isolated network, with extra redundancy, and security features, but use the regular co-op network for internet access. All locations with govt network connections would allow remote access to any virtual networks on it (e.g. so employees can telecommute, or officials can setup a local office during emergencies).

Public Schools:  Its assumed the school system will use a government network to connect schools together, and schools to county agencies, but use regular co-op network for internet service and probably all student traffic. Its also assumed they will operate student virtual networks, so student resources can be accessed remotely without making them publicly accessible – could include school gateway service for internet content filtering (e.g. no porn, no ads, activity tracking). Need to know whether they can promote student involvement, support for student internet needs, provide student family education about broadband, and support for secondary projects like vocational tech training.

Libraries:  Its assumed the library system will use a government network to connect libraries together, and regular co-op network for internet service. Its hoped they will participate in expanding early broadband access, such as an open access public wifi hot-spot, or at least a library card based wifi login system with 24-hour service.

Businesses:  Its assumed most businesses will be fine with regular residential service, with some needing added bandwidth guarantees in Service Level Agreements (SLA), and virtual networks. Some larger businesses will need leased fiber channels, a few will need leased channels to multiple locations in a private physical network over shared fiber. Could provide dark fiber leasing, its assumed this will only be needed for regional backbones passing through the county. Backbone service can be offered to incumbent internet providers in exchange for peering, or at their own backbone service rates.


Surveys and Public Education

County-wide two pronged approach. First, to generate a basic snap shot of existing service, needs, problems, interest, views of residents, and maybe speed test information. Second, to inform on what good broadband & this project can do for them, hopefully motivating them to get involved. This will be completed by volunteers surveying their neighbors, written material, and a project website.


Feasibility Study

An exhaustive process to collect granular data and stories. This is mostly a volunteer effort, hopefully with larger expenses paid, and hours tracked for later co-op service credit. A small group of people will need to be hired for the most tedious work. Encourage meeting attendance with free food.

County Organizing Meeting:  Discuss the feasibility study process, meeting locations, register volunteers.

Feasibility Study Data Collection:  Develop residential & business surveys, a database for survey data, another system for stories, list of households & businesses from county GIS, and maps. Include additional surveys for interest in secondary projects, various economic development opportunities, etc (optional).

Listening Tour:  Three meetings a day will be held in each area of the county, morning, afternoon, and evening. Elected representatives, local officials, and the broadband committee will discuss the broadband project, listen to local needs, collect people’s stories, and discuss related issues. During this volunteers collect feasibility study data in the background.

Followup Data Collection:  Talk to households that missed the Listening Tour, either in small group meetings or home visits. For the more visual stories, stop by to take a picture. For followup with businesses, send volunteers with a business background.

Data Processing:  Compile everything into a project GIS database, starting from copy of county GIS data. That data set provides the numbers needed for an accurate feasibility analysis and reports. Use another system to catalog stories, needs, and other information gathered. Reported needs beyond the scope of the study can tie into more services, early planning of later secondary projects, writing up small opportunities to find someone in the community to fill them, etc.

Feasibility Report:  Anticipate a couple hundred pages of details. Reports are available from several other projects as examples for layout, formatting, and attention to detail. Note, secondary projects will probably be excluded to reinforce that the broadband project is viable.

Independent Review:  The final feasibility study results will be turned over to a consulting company to independently review. MOVRC, community broadband advocacy groups, and case studies all indicate this is necessary step to reinforce the data validity.

Data Access, Sharing, & Presentation:  Grant (or sell) the data set to BEC, FCC, and others where that benefits county residents. Create a web page for registered residents to access a derivative data set. Create a reference (cheat) sheet highlighting the county’s needs and debunking the types of claims commonly used to attack similar projects elsewhere, this can be used in press releases and other promotional material.


Network Mapping

GIS data set, similar to other utility maps ~ create a county map with all network nodes marked, including all co-op member candidates, non-member customers, community anchors, government facilities, and anything else to be connected to the network.

Service Level Maps:  Add a second data set with all known third-party non-broadband network nodes. Add a third data set with all known third-party broadband network nodes. From that data, generate a high resolution granular map of areas of the county which are unserved, under-served, tested under-served, substandard served, well served. Conduct a follow up survey in the substandard-served area to verify service qualification as broadband, any nodes repeatedly failing speed tests would be reclassified as tested under-served.

Preliminary Network Maps:  Run analysis of nodes to find efficient ways of connecting them, covering several funding and take-rate scenarios. High node density is viable for fiber. Low density may work for fiber with subsidies or acceptance of high installation costs. Distant nodes, very low node density, and low income plus low bandwidth needs at low density will need to be connected by fixed-wireless broadband.