The Economic Development Benefits of Broadband

Broadband is the underpinning for some of today’s most important transformations in business activity and government services.

          Broadband in 2018 bears many similarities to the railroads as they opened in the United States in the late 1800s. In both cases, a significant investment of time and materials was necessary to develop new infrastructure, and in both cases, the ultimate value of that investment derives not from the infrastructure but from the economic ecosystem that grows and evolves around it. In the case of the railroads, that meant banking and financial services institutions, travel and hospitality providers, printing and communications companies, freight logistics and shipment handlers, and a host of other businesses.

 

The impact of the railroad became defined not by connecting distant points but by creating new businesses out of nothing, enabling existing businesses to grow and changing the way municipalities viewed themselves in the broader economic landscape.

 

Fast, reliable broadband enables citizens to take jobs with firms in distant cities, creating new opportunities beyond the local economic base.

 

That’s true of broadband, too. High-speed connectivity offers more than just improvement in online work. It offers five broad economic benefits to communities – connections to the information economy, the internet of things (IoT), the engine of electronic commerce, the world of big data and the visual experience era.

 

THE INFORMATION ECONOMY

 

In much the same way that railroads opened commerce among towns and expanded the focus of municipal economies to the sale of products and services regionally and nationally, broadband enables municipalities to think bigger. Remote work is one of the most immediate and obvious benefits. Towns connected to fast, reliable broadband enable their citizens to take jobs with firms in distant cities, creating new opportunities beyond the reach of the local economic base.

The statistics point toward remote work becoming the norm: The number of work at home employees has grown by 103 percent since 2005. 

Though the total U.S. employee workforce grew by 1.9 percent from 2013 to 2014, the number of remote-work employees grew by 5.6 percent – nearly three times as fast. In a survey of business leaders at a recent Global Leadership Summit in London, 34 percent said more than half their company’s full-time workers would work remotely by 2020.

Connecting to the information economy involves more than remote work. It also involves remotely acquiring the skill sets necessary to participate in that economy. Colleges and universities have steadily increased the amount of coursework students can remotely participate in. Beyond traditional higher education, massive open online courses offer many of the same benefits in a no-cost learning environment. Much of that coursework is best performed in a live, video-enabled setting that provides real-time interaction – and that is best served on a reliable, fast, digital backbone that can accommodate the streaming content needs of tens of thousands of students simultaneously.

 

THE INTERNET OF THINGS

 

            Broadband offers the possibility to connect citizens to town services by leveraging the emerging IoT. For example, towns can notify citizens immediately when water quality changes, monitor park usage by offering free Wi-Fi and tracking logins, and enable train signals to communicate with traffic signals so cars can cross the tracks before a train blocks the intersection. These are just a handful of the thousands of new projects towns across the United States are undertaking based on the presence of reliable, fast broadband infrastructure.

The IoT promises better communities by enabling city infrastructure to do more – more self-reporting and status checking, more intelligent conversation with related services and more transparency. Citizens don’t have to wonder any longer where the snowplows are; they can pull up live maps that show where the plows are working and when they’ll be in a specific area. Traffic lights can dynamically accommodate changes in weather to minimize drive times and pollution. Rain sensors can push text messages recommending changes to lawn watering times.

            To date, the IoT has been closely associated with smart-city initiatives in major metropolitan areas, but many of the same benefits that cities such as Stockholm, Songdo and Helsinki have realized can be put to work in municipalities a fraction of their size. In many cases, the cost-benefit ratio is actually higher for smaller cities. Though the IoT can be retrofitted to existing infrastructure, it’s most efficiently deployed as part of a larger municipal infrastructure renovation project –

which is why implementing IoT projects along with broadband construction has become increasingly popular.

 

THE ENGINE OF ELECTRONIC COMMERCE

 

The ability of light manufacturers and specialty retailers in smaller cities and towns to connect to the global engine of electronic commerce is vital to municipal health and growth. As small firms achieve growth-stage viability through microfunding and crowdsourced funding services, municipalities that were historically agricultural, bedroom or tourist communities can develop manufacturing and retail economies. 

Fast, reliable broadband is a significant enabler for small businesses in light manufacturing and retail that need to move significant volumes of data–engineering designs, change data capture patterns, high-resolution color product images, volume ordering data–on a regular basis.

Broadband is a key economic development driver for attracting new entrepreneurs to electronic commerce zones within a municipality. Across the United States, many towns have defined enterprise zones with a focus on electronic commerce development, using tax incentives to attract new businesses that rely on distant trade over a robust fiber backbone. Zones of this type generally provide qualifying businesses with credits against their state income tax, corporate excise tax or both, typically equaling 25 percent of the capital cost for electronic commerce investments.

 

THE WORLD OF BIG DATA

 

Big data – data sets too large to analyze with conventional analytical tools – is a trending technology. The IoT promises more than connecting infrastructural components in real time; it also promises the ability to populate and examine an ever-expanding body of collected data and look for emerging trends in municipal operations and citizen services.

 

Bringing distant entities together with high-definition video makes the real distance between them less relevant. Access to remote services makes a small town feel bigger.

 

Big data offers valuable use cases for municipalities of all kinds. In agricultural communities, sharing crop health and pricing data can help every contributor see emerging trends before they become problems. Similarly, comparing annual yields over time with commodity pricing can help predict future economic performance of the sector.

Capturing and examining big data horizontally (at a single moment in time across a wide geographic area) or longitudinally (over a long period of time in a defined area) – can apply to other municipal endeavors, too. From studying town and regional weather patterns to better predict weather and inform citizens to analyzing utility usage over time to plan a more efficient power and water system, big data holds immense promise for the improvement of citizens’ lives – and the efficient use of their tax dollars.

Access to big data’s long-term benefits requires resilient, fast broadband infrastructure that makes the daily transfer of gigabytes of data a straightforward, unremarkable task. For this reason, more and more municipal governments look to combine urban and exurban big data initiatives with the installation of new fiber optic broadband infrastructure. The benefits of community and regional big data visibility substantially outweigh the cost of installation and operation.

 

THE VISUAL EXPERIENCE ERA

 

Ubiquitous telepresence, or the always-on visual experience, places the heaviest demands on broadband infrastructure. HD-quality video can break down perceived barriers of distance between an employee and an employer, a patient and a physician, an air quality sensor and a central utility operations room or a distant field irrigation meter and a city water planner. Bringing distant entities together with video makes the real distance between them less relevant.

Municipal planners should consider how to bring the citizenry closer to outside opportunities and how to bring outside services closer to the population. Opportunities include remote work, cultural and artistic events in distant cities, and regional political events.

Bringing outside services closer to the population makes a small town feel bigger. The promise of telemedicine delivered in full HD means a small town can have access to specialists in other cities. Working in conjunction with local health care staff, distant physicians can instruct on-site teams what to look for, gauge patient reaction and response and act appropriately

 

GETTING STARTED

 

Facing the immense opportunities that broadband offers, communities generally have one immediate question: How do we get started?

At Ronin, we use a five-step process to build a holistic service and infrastructure plan.

Start with the end in mind. We recommend working backward from the desired community outcomes through the broadband service layer and ultimately to the design of the network and the associated service ecosystem. Beginning with the end in mind makes it easy to draw functional throughlines to the architecture and partner group. That process, in turn, starts with identifying the key performance indicators (KPIs) that citizens want to see changed as a result of implementing municipal broadband.

Centralize and productize community KPIs. When a single concern, such as communication, emerges across multiple areas of service, establishing a center of excellence and pulling multiple services into a centralized environment becomes a cost- and time-efficient idea. These centers of excellence become delivery, innovation and planning hubs that reduce overall cost to serve and work together to deliver quality service to citizens.

See the full landscape. Since 2010, an increasingly complex ecosystem of smart-city service providers has sprung up, offering technologies and professional services in areas that range from city parking and waste management to city data traffic, transport, connectivity and more. Choosing the right technology partners and building out the right smart-city “stack” is a unique endeavor for each municipality. • Define value delivered to citizens. To citizens, broadband can seem to be a “shovels” project when, in fact, it is much more. Understanding how each use case in a deployed broadband ring provides tangible benefits can provide insight into the value of the investment and the fiscal and experiential returns taxpayers can expect for their money.

Build the delivery ecosystem. The resulting plan should consider everything from broadband service billing and customer care through service quality feedback and ongoing ecosystem evolution roadmapping. It’s important to have a partner that can assist in every step of this process.

Ronin Technology Advisors

We believe that networks are about creating value for the company, the investors, the customers, and the community. At Ronin, we bring to bear decades of experience designing, building, and operating broadband infrastructure. We are enablers of network infrastructure and services, and our team is fluent in technology and business. Working with Ronin means engaging authentic career product developers, project managers, engineers, technology strategists, and sales executives who not only love networks, but also have built their entire careers on them. 

Communications Services: Hot or Not

Service providers today are looking to determine where best to deploy capital and get the most bang for their buck. Over the past 3 years we’ve spoken to and surveyed over 30,000 IT decision makers at businesses from 1-person shops to Fortune 100 companies on what communications services they are buying and looking to buy.

The Hot List:

  • Ethernet services
    • Today’s Ethernet services provide the bandwidth and virtual routing capabilities required to support key applications that are becoming increasingly strategic business investments.
  • Fiber to the premises
    • As fiber optic cables are able to carry much more data than copper cables, especially over long distances, copper telephone networks built in the 20th century are being replaced by fiber
  • Business class services
    •  These are the services that delight customers because they have more speed, greater capacity, and new features; ultimately the customer has more capabilities. 
    • One business class service you need to be offering is UCaaS. There is a huge demand for UCaaS, and if you aren’t offering it your customers are likely already getting it from someone else.
  • Interconnection
    • By connecting your network to other networks you can increase its value and the value it can deliver to you down the road. To interconnect you’ll need to have a standard service offering you can provide to carriers.

The Not List:

Need help getting these services off the ground? Give us a call (303)-678-1844 or email us at hello@roninpbr.com and let’s start talking.

Authentic Engagement Brings Customers

– Nearly half of consumers say they have left a business’ website and made a purchase elsewhere because the experience was poorly curated

– 73% of consumers feel they haven’t been engaged in a personalized way

Your customers are spending 90+ minutes per day engaging on platforms where they could be engaging with you.

It’s a tricky situation. With technology continuing to mature, we have found ourselves in a marketing machine that has become too intimate for anyone’s comfort. However, we still want to be personally engaged. While there are a number of ways to do this, we believe the key is authenticity: building a brand that engages customers and helps them understand how the services you offer enrich and enable their lives.

So what’s the right way to navigate these complexities? Ronin has the answer! Contact us today: (303)-678-1844 or hello@roninpbr.com

5 Takeaways From Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

 Mary Meeker recently released her extensive internet trends report for the crowd at Code Conference in California. Here are some key takeaways from her presentation:

1. U.S. adults spent nearly 6 hours per day on digital media in 2017. Some 3.3 of those hours were spent on mobile, which is responsible for overall growth in digital media consumption.

2. Voice-controlled products like Amazon Echo are taking off. The Echo’s installed base in the U.S. grew to more than 30 million in the fourth quarter of 2017.

12 Amazing Amazon Alexa Statistics

3. Physical retail sales are on the decline and e-commerce sales growth is continuing to accelerate. It grew 16% in the US last year.

4. The speed of technological disruption is accelerating. While it took about 80 years for Americans to adopt the dishwasher, the consumer Internet became commonplace in less than a decade.

5. Employment types will be in flux. Expect more on-demand and internet-related jobs to predominate.

What this means if you’re an Internet service provider:

– More customers adding more devices and spending more time online watching video will mean that your network will need to provide a consistent user experience. IF you’re getting complaints about buffering, videos not loading, slow internet, or devices not connected, it may be time for a network checkup.

– Brick and mortar stores in your serving area will need communications solutions to help them compete in the new economy. Make sure you’re offering services such as high speed internet (recommended 100Mbps or more), unified communications, and managed Wi-Fi.

– There’s a rise in digital workers and small/home office customers that need the full suite of business services delivered to their home.

Full Video Transcript of Meeker’s Presentation

Interested in talking about the implications of Meeker’s report? Give us a call today (303)-678-1844.

The Value of Product Development

As a communications company, what was the last new communications product that you offered? It was probably internet access. Think about how far that technology has come and what the additional possibilities are for services and revenue on your network today in addition to internet access. 

If you’re thinking about expanding your business, or potentially selling it here are some reasons to start developing additional services

1. Competitive Advantage: Today, customers can purchase a variety of voice and data services from a variety of providers and it’s important to not only keep pace but let the market know you understand how to make your customers competitive using your services.

2. Innovation Story: Innovative companies are thought of as creative and groundbreaking, bringing more excitement to their brand and solving consumer problems. Being first is always better than needing to flatter your competition by replicating something they did first and you wish you had thought of earlier.

3. Added Services: New services might not be your number one revenue generator, but new services drive excitement around your organization.  New services provide a continued look at existing products customers may have forgotten you offer, keeping your brand front of mind.

4. See Your Buyer and Engage Your Consumer: New products generate new discussion and new opportunities

5. Test Market Trends:  Your ability to maintain an active focus on innovation and stay current on trends allows you to be ahead of the curve with emerging consumer trends and test new concepts in early stages of trends and refine them as the trend becomes mainstream. This test and refine concept allows you to see what concepts have potential and which were fleeting while still maintaining a competitive advantage.

6. Value Creation: By developing additional services on your network, you can reach more markets and sell higher margin services, and the network will generate a better return and all of this adds up to long term value that you are creating.

If you need help with determining which services to offer, or a business plan, or turnkey development and launch of new services give us a call today (303)-678-1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com

Flourishing Tech: Blockchain

Wyoming plans to diversify its economy from fossil fuels to blockchain. Blockchain is the ledger of digital currencies such as Bitcoin. In March, Governor Matt Mead signed four blockchain-friendly bills that make the least populated state friendlier to the technology than any other. Arizona and Tennessee hope to lure tech companies with blockchain-friendly legislation as well.

Blockchain companies are webscale companies – this means they require the ability to quickly add computing and connectivity, need big pipes, need access to data centers, and need access to interconnection. These are all things that a connected infrastructure can enable. In most cases blockchain companies don’t have that many employees, it’s almost all technology.

Is your community looking for a broadband infrastructure plan to improve economic development and attract new employers?  Give us a call 303.678.1844 or hello@roninpbr.com

The Bright Future of the Streaming Industry

The online streaming video industry has a very bright future, according to a new study. Below are findings from a recent study by Convergence Research Group.

 

  • Revenue for streaming companies (Netflix, Apple, etc.) will reach $16.6 billion this year, a 40% jump over 2017
  • Their revenue will top $25 billion in 2020
  • By the end of 2017, over 32 million US households did not have a traditional TV subscription
    • This number will increase to 36.76 million by the end of this year
  • Pay-TV lost almost 4 million subscribers last year and are expected to lose another 3.72 million this year

Your customers love OTT streaming. Can your network support their binge-watching? If you’re not sure, contact Ronin Technology Advisors today. (303)-678-1844 or hello@roninpbr.com

The Run Down On Community Co-Working Spaces

Given the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the increasing number of electronic devices we use daily, the cloud has created jobs that were previously unimagined. In many cases, this allows people the ability to work online from the physical location of their choosing. These new jobs have created a labor pool that is critical to a community ecosystem. 75% of employees who work remotely earn over $65,000 a year, meaning they make more and spend more than the average office worker.

As such, a key component of a community’s broadband plan should be how to attract and maintain digital workers.  One concept to consider is creating local spaces where entrepreneurs and digital workers could do their jobs, converge, and share ideas. This is where co-working spaces or “incubators” come in. Statistically speaking, people who work in co-working spaces are significantly happier with their jobs than people working in traditional office environments. This seems to be primarily due to scheduling flexibility while retaining some form of structure and opportunities for community engagement. Cities and towns with popular co-working spaces would be happier, healthier, and, thus, more productive.

These “connected spaces” aren’t just for new service providers and municipal networks; they can work for existing service providers looking to showcase their offerings. Service providers have the capability to offer connected spaces with all the services small businesses and start-ups need: access to high speed / quality internet, unified communications, video conferencing, and cloud-based applications.

Looking for some ideas for attracting digital workers?  Give us a call 303-678-1844 or hello@roninpbr.com

The Benefits of an Engaged Social Media Presence

            Our world is becoming increasingly more social. Social media platforms are ubiquitous, and we live in a society that thrives on personal connections. While you can still have some luck with traditional advertising methods such as billboards, social media should be an integral part of your marketing plan. This is because there are over 2 billion monthly active Facebook users as of Q4 2017. Similarly, Twitter has 330 million monthly active users. These are simply not channels you can afford to ignore. And don’t forget to optimize all your online material for mobile. Everyone has a smartphone; in fact, Facebook alone has 1.15 billion mobile daily users.           

          Having an engaged online presence can help your business in unprecedented ways. Here are the primary reasons to go social:

·      You reach more customers. As noted above, Facebook, for example, has over 2 billion active users. Your customers are on social media whether you like it or not; meet them where they are.

·      Improved customer perceptions. Having an online presence means customers can more easily share feedback. The positive feedback you can highlight on your pages so everyone can see how great you’re doing. If you get negative reviews, having an engaged online presence allows you to respond to your critics and hopefully alleviate their concerns. It puts the ball back in your court.

·      Improved Net Promoter Score. The Net Promoter Score is an index ranging from -100 to 100 that measures the willingness of customers to recommend a company’s products or services to others. Without being engaged online, your NPS will be nonexistent.

·     Better control of paid advertising. A social media presence enables marketing dollars to be better spent by providing control down to the microscopic level of a specific service area and interest for who you want to see any paid online ads. Traditional online outlets such as Google AdWords, Bing, and Yahoo only reference geo-location and previous search history, but social media sites give you more options.

 


As you can see, this is too important to be a part time job. We can help give your brand the authentic and engaging message you seek. (303)-678-1844 / hello@roninpbr.com

Looking to get a better view of the communications market?

Service providers today are looking to determine where best to deploy capital and get the most bang for their buck. Over the past 2 years we’ve spoken to and surveyed over 20,000 IT decision makers at businesses from 1 person shops to Fortune 100 companies on what communications services they are buying and looking to buy. This provides us with a great view of the market and we can provide insight into these questions:

• How big is the communications market and how fast is it growing?
• What services should you be investing in to stay relevant?
• What services can you offer over your existing or planned network?
• How will competitive threats and new technologies such as 5G and SDWAN impact your business?

We’ll also provide some practical tips on how to position your organization and network for the future
If you want to connect, give us a shout 303.678.1844 or drop us a note hello@roninpbr.com