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Two good guides to planning and executing municipal broadband projects have been published recently: The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook by Blair Levin and Denise Linn, and Connecting 21st Century Communities published by Next Century Cities without authorship credit.
Both offer planning frameworks for both political leaders and city staff interested in either developing local broadband projects – of any sort – or laying the groundwork for others to do so.
[Connecting 21st Century Communities]() is short – 18 pages – and focused on policy alternatives at the local, state and federal level, including dig once ordinances, building codes and streamlined permitting processes.
The Next Generation Network Connectivity Handbook is longer – 70 pages – and goes into detail on different options for municipally-led projects. Not just city owned and operated systems, but public-private partnerships, anchor tenant arrangements and other options.
Connecting 21st Century Communities is more tactical and oriented towards basic – and less fraught – policy. The Handbook dives deeper into making tough strategic decisions and is the more balanced of the two, offering a few examples of bad projects along with a longer list of successes, although it puts too much faith in useful results from the City of Los Angeles’ current
wish list request for proposal. Refreshingly, neither engages in mindless build it and they will come cheerleading.
Deciding to pursue a municipal broadband project – whether as a principal or a minor partner – can be daunting. Much of the stress, though, comes from unfamiliarity and a lack of good information sources. Both guides offer plenty of example and links that can ease those worries.