Steps to Success
Under the Office of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch, the Indiana Broadband Office is a one-stop-shop for all things broadband in Indiana. Lt. Governor Crouch, alongside the Indiana Broadband Office team, understands the importance of connectivity, especially in underserved and unserved rural areas. The Indiana Broadband Office recognizes the need for affordable and reliable broadband for our communities. With the input and assistance of several state agencies and local leadership groups, the Indiana Broadband Office has developed a handbook to give communities the tools they need to prepare for broadband services and their further connectivity.
We are pleased to present to you our Steps to Success, crafted to help encourage and lead communities through the process of expanding connection and enhancing affordability.
To get started, communities are encouraged to establish a local broadband leadership team, determine the needs of your community, launch community speed tests and surveys, engage with broadband providers, support providers on funding applications and evaluate the unfunded areas of your community.
These steps to success are a roadmap. After the completion of step-one, communities may decide to skip steps or approach them in different orders based on their mission, goals, needs and what they have already accomplished. Every road is different, yet leads to the same outcome of providing connectivity to our communities.
Thank you to those communities who have shared their strategies, stories of collaboration and success. We are always interested in expanding our case studies and hearing directly from communities on their progress and successes. Schedule time to discuss with us where you’re at in the process, what has worked for you and any questions you may have by contacting us at INbroadband@lg.in.gov.
We look forward to hearing of your success!
One Create Leadership Group Or Task Force
Establishing a broadband task force will help prioritize bringing broadband to a community. Participants for this task force may include the following:
- school system superintendents, principals, tech ofﬁcers
- county commissioners, clerks, council members
- community foundations
- business leaders
- banks/investment institutions, other anchor institutions
- economic development ofﬁcials
- city/town leadership, mayor’s ofﬁce, clerk, treasurer, town planner, utilities dept.
- public library ofﬁcial
- agriculture community leadership
Two Become a Broadband Ready Community (BBRC)
Communities that are BBRC certiﬁed send a signal to the telecommunications industry that the community has taken steps to reduce barriers to broadband infrastructure investment.
To be certiﬁed, a local unit of government will need to be compliant with requirements listed in IC 5-28-28.5-7
Broadband is not guaranteed to those who become certiﬁed, though it is a step in the right direction to reduce regular hurdles throughout the infrastructure investment process.
Learn how to become a BBRC and see which communities are already registered here.
Three Consider A Broadband Plan Or Feasibility Study
A broadband plan or feasibility study encourages communities to plan for long-term development. These can be funded through programs like OCRA’s Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) or through self-funding.
1) OCRA Broadband Readiness Planning Grant (CDBG) minimum technical requirements
2) Self-funding a plan or study using existing funds, private contributions or COVID Recovery funds
Four Engage With Providers To Encourage Investment
Communities should form a strong working relationship with providers in the area.
- Ask what we, as community leadership, can do to help.
- Become familiar with state and federal funding opportunities by means of press releases, newsletters, social media, etc.
- Seek to understand where provider currently has assets and ask where they are looking to expand.
Five Showcase Incentives And Beneﬁts Of Broadband Expansion
Tax exemptions such as those outlined in Senate Enrolled Act No. 560 (Infrastructure Development Zone) make it appealing for broadband providers to invest in an area by offering exemptions to business and personal property taxes on broadband investment.
Without this investment, the business and personal property taxes on the investment would not exist. At the end of the exemption period the tax would then be applicable. Communities enacting an IDZ have shown over and over that this process has been the deciding factor for a provider to begin their project.
Six Increase the Adoption Rate in Your Community
Adoption rate refers to the ratio of those who subscribe to broadband out of those who have access. Increasing the adoption rate will make an area more attractive to providers and investors.
- Use of Purdue Partnership/Digital Inclusion Planning (Purdue Center for Regional Development)
- Provide adoption assistance for families of free and reduced lunch students
- Emergency Broadband Beneﬁt (EBB)
- Digital literacy programs for community members
- Repurpose laptops, computers and devices
Seven Compile Inventory of Public Resources/Assets
Having an inventory of public resources and assets will help providers interested in your area, eliminating much of the groundwork on their behalf.
- What are the vertical assets? (i.e. towers, grain silos, etc.)
- Is there any existing or unused ﬁber which could handle more trafﬁc?
- Compile list of ordinances/permits/requirements for the submission process.
- Streamline the permit process and ensure rapid review of all submitted permits/applications.
Eight Gather Data: Surveys, Mapping, and Eligibility
Data can be used in conversations with providers, grant applications and more. It is important to have reliable data at your ﬁngertips.
- Map areas where service is needed.
- Use surveys to identify those served/unserved areas.
- Identify areas eligible for federal, state, local and private funding.
Nine Identify Funding Sources
Identifying funding sources can assist communities with broadband planning as well as making them more attractive and competitive for investment.
- COVID relief funding from ARPA and CAA
- Federal, state and local resources
- Community foundations and other philanthropic institutions
- Anchor institutions
- In-kind materials, labor or administrative support
Ten Engage with Partners to Increase Local Workforce in Anticipation of Buildout
Broadband brings more opportunities than just internet. It brings new jobs, new residents and new businesses. Communities should be prepared to increase their local workforce.
- Become or look for assistance from a 21st Century Talent Region (21CTR)
- Utilize 21CTR for representation across government, education, workforce, economic development and philanthropy
- Identify career pathways already in place that can expand/be replicated
- Encourage those unaware of 21CTR to join/have an understanding of the need to be involved and engaged
- Visit the 21st Century Talent Regions website for more information
To download the full steps to success Breakout PDF, click here
Steps to Success will position communities to become competitive with funding opportunities. In 2021, several funding avenues were offered to communities including the Emergency Broadband Benefit, FCC – Erate Emergency Connectivity Fund, local American Rescue Plan Act funds and the National Telecommunications and Information Act Broadband Infrastructure Program. Recently, READI grant applications were accepted through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. In late September, OCRA received providers’ Letters of Intent (LOI) for round three of the Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program and announced the Indiana Connectivity Fund Line Extension. This fall, OCRA will announce its subsidiary program. Communities are also encouraged to prepare for round four of Next Level Connections Broadband Grant Program and round two of FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund in 2022. Funding mechanisms are ever-increasing, and communities should be ready to take advantage of what each has to offer. The Indiana Broadband Office’s Steps to Success helps to aid communities in remaining relevant and enhance connectivity as more funds become available.