Everyone deserves equal access to remote work, online learning, and telehealth services. That’s why rural communities want, need, and deserve high-speed internet. While high-speed, at-home connectivity is a significant benefit of a rural broadband network, it isn’t the only benefit. Broadband can also stimulate your local economy, strengthen your local tax base, and modernize your city.
While a new network is an investment, the potential broadband network return on investment (ROI) is remarkable. In this blog, we’re going to share nine ways you can decrease costs, improve outcomes, and maximize that ROI for your community.
Decreasing the Upfront Cost of Rural Broadband Networks
As you research your options, you’ll likely compare the benefits of fiber versus wireless technology. Although fiber is the undisputed best technology for modern networks, the high upfront costs of constructing a fiber network are sometimes cited as a con. However, in the long run, fiber technology can save you money. Fiber boasts the lowest price per bit per kilometer, offers unmatched capacity compared to wireless, symmetrical speeds and significantly slashes your long-term operational experiences.
Even so, it’s just good business sense to look for ways to reduce your upfront costs when laying fiber. Our first three tips for boosting ROI will help you do exactly that.
- Institute a “dig once” policy. Digging and refilling trenches to lay conduit for fiber can represent a significant chunk of your network construction expense (and timeline). You can reduce those expenses by unifying your municipality around a “dig once” policy. Whenever water, electric, or other companies need to dig in your area, make plans to lay conduit at the same time. Then, construction teams can easily lay fiber later at a lower cost.
- Know your assets. We’ve talked before about the “fiber where you can, wireless where you must” approach to network design. If you must use wireless technology in parts of the community, you can cut costs by finding tall structures that can serve as wireless bases. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Telecompetitor reported on one American community that identified local post offices as an ideal asset, both for housing wireless technology and creating a digital hub for the community.
- Apply for funding. Whether your community plans to build and own the network or partner with a local service provider, there are funding opportunities that can help cover the upfront costs. If you’re applying for grants, loans, private equity, or a mixture of all, check out our advice to strengthen your applications and improve the likelihood of landing outside support.
Increasing Your Broadband Network ROI After Launch
Now that you’ve found a few ways to minimize your upfront investment, our remaining six tips will help you maximize your return once your network launches.
- Attract more businesses. For modern businesses, reliable, high-speed internet is a necessity. Building a broadband network should help you attract more businesses, but you’ll need a plan for getting the word out. Consider your existing programs and incentives for attracting businesses to your municipality. Start there and explore how you might advertise your new network and communicate the benefits across those avenues.
- Market your services. Some communications service providers and municipalities take an “if you build it, they will come” approach to broadband marketing. While many of your residents may be actively looking for better internet and seek you out to sign up, many will not. Make sure you use strategic marketing to maximize your community’s take rate, especially if you directly profit from the sale of services. With Calix Marketing Cloud, you can quickly and easily segment, target, and engage prospects and subscribers based on their propensity to buy. Simply schedule a Consult with us to learn more.
- Attract and keep residents. Especially in the wake of COVID-19, rural life holds great appeal. There’s room to spread out, a strong sense of community, excellent schools, and friendly neighbors. However, people want and need to live in places where high-speed internet is available. Make it known that your rural community offers cutting-edge connectivity, and you can strengthen your tax base by attracting and keeping residents for decades to come.
- Benefit from higher home values. People want to live where high-speed internet is available, and they’re willing to pay for that access. Studies show that fiber access can increase home values by more than 3.1 percent. Building a broadband network will increase local home values and generate more revenue for your community.
- Grow your tax base by attracting remote workers. We’ve already mentioned that a community broadband network can attract new businesses. It can also increase access to remote work opportunities with companies located elsewhere. Many larger companies across North America have announced plans to stay remote even once COVID-19 vaccinations are widely available. This gives high-income urban workers the freedom to relocate to rural areas like yours, again boosting your tax base. It also gives your current residents more access to high-quality, high-paying jobs they can do from home with fast, reliable internet.
- Use smart city/grid applications. Your municipality can leverage a fiber network in a host of ways to improve operations, cut costs, and drive revenue. Our guide, “Smart Cities Run on Fiber: 7 More Ways to Increase Your Network’s ROI,” will help you explore the possibilities.
Plan Today to Profit Tomorrow
Broadband networks are certainly an investment, but your community will reap the benefits for generations to come. By decreasing the upfront costs and increasing the post-launch return, you can maximize your broadband network ROI. Planning now to profit tomorrow can make a network an easier “yes” for your community.
Are you building a business case for broadband in your community, actively exploring ways to increase the ROI, or trying to communicate the possibilities to your local council? Those early planning stages are the perfect time to start discussions with cloud, software, and systems providers like Calix.
We’re here to help you move forward with confidence. Book a free Broadband Consult with our experts to get started.