How to Organize Your Broadband Plan
Download the Broadband Toolkit
Review this document to understand why and how to provide access to broadband internet in your region.
Identify a Digital Navigator and Organize a Broadband Team
Pinpoint a leader and the instrumental stakeholders to start planning.
Collect data surrounding broadband access, affordability and digital literacy to execute the master broadband plan for your community.
After countless visits with parish and community leaders throughout the state, reccurring questions kept being posted to our office. Stakeholders wanted to know what exactly we meant by broadband access and why it was important to them. Everyone wanted to know how they should organize themselves to help bring this added benefit to their communities. The first step toward eliminating the digital divide is to bridge the knowledge gap and quickly address the questions. Thus, the Broadband Toolkit was created with direct input from the community. This toolkit is a step-by-step guide designed to explain why and how to get everyone in your community or region access to broadband internet. This guide is for community leaders, elected officials, business owners and concerned citizens who will work with local governments and internet service providers for universal access to broadband.
EXCELLENT TOOLKIT! GREAT INFORMATION! Very thorough, understandable, explicit and reader friendly for all levels in layman’s terms! GREAT QUESTIONS ASKED AND ANSWERED! Great “WHAT IF” situations. The toolkit has all the information for all of us to take away a NEW & EASIER WAY of UNDERSTANDING BROADBAND and all the possibilities and how to get started on making those possibilities come true in our communities! - Mayor Jennifer Vidrine of Ville Platte
DRA Speed Test
The Delta Regional Authority recently launched its Delta Broadband Mapping Project. Rural areas lack adequate digital infrastructure to support access to critical services such as healthcare, distance learning and remote work. Through an innovative online crowd-sourcing platform, DRA has launched this effort to gauge broadband accessibility. As many residents as possible are needed to take this internet speed test to develop an accurate representation of availability.
Organize Your Stakeholders
Establish Your Digital Navigator
It’s critical to have local leadership support for broadband planning and investment relating to access, affordability, and digital literacy. Collectively, our state needs to solve the digital divide by 2029. Leaders should understand how an investment in broadband infrastructure will positively impact the longevity of their communities. The key to achieving universal broadband is identifying a Digital Navigator. This should be a local government leader who has the authority to make official requests of local government departments, believes in and can clearly articulate why the community wants and needs better broadband and can help educate elected officials of the value of universal broadband. It is essential that at least a portion of this person’s time be dedicated to keeping track of and following through with all the necessary steps of the broadband initiative. To achieve universal coverage throughout a local area, it’s imperative to ensure the presence of a champion within that local government.
Parishes that have established Digital Navigators:
- East Carroll
- East Feliciana
- St. Helena
Municipalities that have established Digital Navigators:
- Ville Platte
- West Monroe
Create Your Broadband Team
The Digital Navigator should establish a broadband management team. These folks won’t be working on broadband full-time, or even most of their time, but they’re supposed to support the Digital Navigator in their areas of work and expertise and know what’s going on. The broadband management team will oversee the daily activities associated with development of the parish's or municipality’s broadband plan to achieve functionally universal broadband coverage by 2029. The broadband management team will also work with local staff involved in broadband-related policies (internal policies, zoning ordinances and parish or municipal codes.)
Examples of members represented on local broadband teams:
- Sabine Parish
- Police jurors
- Local higher education deans
- CEOs of local companies
- Mayor's staff
- School board members
- Bossier Parish
- Police jurors
- IT personnel
- Chamber of commerce members
- Parish engineers
- Economic development representatives
The Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities grant program aims to help private providers facilitate the deployment of broadband service to unserved areas of the state. Any local government in Louisiana can partner with a private provider and apply for GUMBO grants. The initial round of grants will open for applications on Nov. 1, 2021, and close on Dec. 31, 2021. Acceptance for reservations as outlined in the rules can be submitted through our portal. The application review and protest period will occur during January and February 2022, with awards to be issued spring 2022.
Federal grants are great tools to look into for additional support. They tend to work differently from state programs in that the local government does not always need to be involved—or even consulted. In most cases, internet service providers work on projects by themselves. Several federal programs have been established to directly fund broadband expansion and affordability. There may be federal funding already invested and at work in your community for broadband. Outside of GUMBO, the following resource from the National Telecommunications Information Agency does a great job in helping a variety of constituents understand what federal grant programs are best available to address your local access, literacy and affordability challenges.