“A complete strategic planning process involves assessing needs, identifying goals for addressing the most critical issues, and crafting an appropriate action plan.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted to rural communities that having access to reliable, scalable Rural Communications (Broadband) services is essential to support Distance Learning, eHealth, Electronic Commerce in their communities.
Unfortunately, the high-speed infrastructure necessary to realize these opportunities often bypasses rural areas because of the high cost to design, build and maintain rural communication networks.
Consequently, rural communities must develop a strategic plan that includes Federal, Provincial, Municipal Governments, and Private Industries.
A Strategic Plan should be updated annually and used by the community to establish a ongoing budget to continue to improve both coverage and capacity in their rural area.
Strategic Planning – Benefits
Strategic planning offers many benefits to rural communities:
- Identification gaps in existing rural broadband infrastructure by pinpointing problems that limit economic development, service delivery, or quality of life.
- Helping municipal councils decide which problems are most important to address first. Creating opportunities for partnerships by identifying common interests.
- Providing a mechanism to coordinate multiple last mile strategies including: Fibre, Fixed Wireless, and Hybrid (Fiber/Wireless)
Strategic Planning Steps:
1. Assemble a team comprised of municipal, commercial, and residential members to identify the community’s broadband vision;
2. Access the communities’ broadband-related gaps and needs, by completing statistically valid surveys, field analysis, and third-party data sets.
2. Complete an Economic Analysis for each Underserved Area based on Alternate Network Architectures: (1) Fiber Optic, (2) Fixed Wireless, and (3) Hybrid Fibre/Wireless.
3. Develop a High-Level Plan/Design for each Underserved Area.
4. Identify the Priority of each Underserved Area
5. Develop a Preliminary Budget and Timeline for each Underserved Area.
Underserved= Rural Areas that that have less than a minium of 50Mbps downstream and 10Mbps upstream Government of Canada defines rural areas have populations of less than 1,000 or fewer than 400 people per square kilometre.