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Jan 09, 2024
4 min

The 5 Top Focus Areas for Tribally-Owned Broadband Service Providers

Running any for-profit business can be challenging, but it’s especially new for many tribes that are launching broadband services to their community. In a lot of cases, high-speed internet has been scarce—or non-existent—and a for-profit broadband business can seem like a mystery.

There are five top focus areas for tribes that are running a for-profit broadband business. Even more details are included in our no-cost, available-to-all Broadband Academy (particularly the course, Understanding Broadband Services for Tribal Communities). Let’s take a quick look at each one to prepare you for the course. 


Where Should I Focus My Energy as a Tribally-Owned Broadband Business?

With years of expertise in broadband services, including working on a team with my own tribe, I’ve collaborated with the education experts at Calix to outline the five main things you need to consider. This way, you can streamline your efforts and dedicate your time appropriately. 

To begin, your focus is always on your community—and this should be no different. A for-profit broadband business succeeds when it attracts and retains subscribers through an exceptional subscriber experience. It’s that experience that sets you apart as a broadband provider, and it will add continuous value to your community well into the future. 

Even if it’s “for-profit,” that doesn’t mean you turn away from your community and are forced to only worry about money. When you focus on the tribe’s success, you’ll see ongoing revenue. It’s a win-win.

Here are the five focus areas for tribes that have started running their own for-profit broadband business:

  1. Marketing campaigns. Just because you build a network doesn’t mean everyone will automatically come and use it. You need to market effectively. Take a look at these opportunities below. You can champion your upcoming network in many different ways to build interest.

    • Early marketing campaigns are critical for educating people about the value of high-speed broadband—and to raise awareness about the services you provide.  
    • Start marketing during the build stage. To learn more about the five stages of building a successful broadband business, take Broadband Fundamentals in Broadband Academy. 
    • Think outside of the box. There isn’t one way to market effectively. Explore social media, digital marketing, print and physical marketing, and events.

      Every single one of these opportunities is a place where you can champion your upcoming network—and all that it will bring to your tribe. 
  2. Sales strategy. To determine how you need to position your broadband business in order to gain new subscribers and keep them loyal to you, it’s always smart to dig into your sales options.  

    • Take a closer look at programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) to see how it can help your community pay for broadband.  
    • Consider making rates attractive by offering limited time promotions and early sign-up discounts.
    • Build attractive bundles. You can offer broadband, television, and voice services together.
    • Add-ons like a network management app can raise your competitiveness. With a downloadable app, users can manage their own networks right at their fingertips. This means they can reset passwords, check speeds, and manage connected devices without calling in for help. 
    • Expand your offering with other services like internet home security, parental controls, virus protection, and electronics aftermarket warranties. Services like these enhance the subscriber experience to a much higher degree, keeping people happy and devoted to your business.   
  3. Customer support. Your new network will need a reliable customer support staff. A single unhappy subscriber could lead to an unpaid bill. Customer support teams are the first point of contact for sales, questions, and service issues. 

    • Ensure customer support teams are knowledgeable about your services, technology, and overall business goals. 
    • Prioritize customer support to increase loyalty and generate ongoing revenue.  
    • Think about the in-home service experience. Even if you have the fastest, most reliable network, subscribers aren’t willing to pay for a bad in-home service experience. Hitting their bandwidth limit, for example, could equate to a slow internet speed—leaving a bad experience.  
  4. Skilled workforce. To provide an “always on” experience for your subscribers, invest in a skilled workforce from your community that includes:

    • Field technicians. These core members of your team will be responsible for the installation, maintenance, and repair of the network systems. 
    • Network operators and/or engineers. Highly technical and skilled, you may need fewer of these team members, but they play a critical role in developing and monitoring the stability of networks.  
    • Sales and marketing. To ensure that people do sign up for your broadband, you’ll need sales and marketing to help create offers and raise awareness in the community.
    • Customer support. There’s no broadband business without customer support, as I mentioned above. Be sure that you invest in the ongoing training of this team and leverage cloud-based platforms to do more with less.
    • Finance. To keep the business running smoothly and turning a profit, you’ll need someone to balance the books and stay updated on funding programs. 
  5. Data insights. Network data can help you pinpoint where outages are so you can make your team’s day-to-day operations more efficient. With end-to-end visibility into your network, you can reduce operational expenses (OPEX) by trimming down truck rolls and increasing your first call resolution (FCR).  

As you embark on your broadband journey, you can return to this list and access Broadband Academy at any time to help you. I know it can be overwhelming, but that’s why we’re here. If you ever have any questions about bringing broadband services to your tribe, you can always reach me at In the meantime, be sure to enroll in Broadband Academy if you haven’t already. 

Enroll in Broadband Academy to learn more about running a for-profit broadband business as a tribe. 


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