How to Keep Broadband Profits in Rural Canada
Leaders across Canada are realizing that broadband networks can benefit rural communities in every way. High-speed internet improves access to education and healthcare, boosts the economy, enables modern agricultural practices, and more.
Broadband networks can also generate significant profits. When rural leaders have a roadmap and business model in place from the start, they can ensure those profits stay in the community. But that won’t happen when communities turn to major telcos to build networks for them. In this blog, we’ll discuss why major telcos aren’t the solution for rural Canada and explore what leaders can do to build better broadband networks and keep the profits in their community.
Why Major Telcos Can’t Solve the High-Speed Internet Problem for Rural Canada
First, let’s remind ourselves that rural success doesn’t just benefit rural Canada. It benefits our entire nation.
As broadband advocate Ed Ingle points out to his American audience, “A thriving rural America – where people want to live – also helps urban America. It helps by reducing the overcrowding of our cities. It helps by reducing the pressure on deteriorating urban infrastructures. It helps the environment, productivity, and quality of life by reducing urban traffic and congestion. And, it helps by providing access to more affordable U.S. made products and services, produced in rural America where operating costs are lower.”
The same is true here in Canada. When rural Canada thrives, we all thrive. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean rural leaders can expect companies in big cities to protect the best interests of their communities.
Here’s what can go wrong when rural Canada asks major telcos to build their high-speed broadband networks:
- They simply won’t. Most major telcos won’t build high-speed internet networks in rural areas. The profits they can generate in a small, rural municipality is only a drop in the bucket compared to their potential profits in more concentrated urban areas, so they don’t see much incentive for investing in expensive broadband networks there.
- They won’t provide universal access. In most cases, major telcos will focus on reaching the top 80% of homes they deem financially “worth it.” Many rural Canadians will continue to be left out.
- They will have a monopoly on the service. This can drive up costs and decrease people’s ability to adopt the service even when it is available. In 2018-19, billing-related issues accounted for 40.5% of all internet issues raised with Commission for Complaints for Telcom-Television Services (CCTS). No rural leader wants to see their community members get high-speed internet, only to have to beg for fair pricing and billing practices!
- They will divert rural Canada’s wealth to urban Canada. Let’s just look at the math for a moment. If each household is going to pay $100/month for high-speed broadband, you can multiply $100 x the number of homes in your area x 12 months to find the total annual revenue that’s potentially available. Do you really want that much money diverted from your local economy to the urban municipalities where major telcos are headquartered? A dollar diverted to other cities’ economies is typically gone for good, but a dollar spent locally is likely going to remain in your community to be spent or reinvested multiple times over.
It’s clear that major telcos might sometimes provide a solution for rural broadband, but it won’t be the best solution. Let’s consider what an ideal community broadband network would look like instead.
Ideal Community Broadband Networks
As leaders in rural Canada pursue options to get their community connected, they’ll want to find ways to ensure their community broadband networks deliver…
✓ Universal Access – The network should ensure every member of the community can access high-speed internet and the benefits it provides.
✓ Future-proof Technology – The network should provide a fast, reliable connection with plenty of bandwidth to serve the community well into the future as technology continues to develop.
✓ A Customized Solution – There’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all solution for rural Canada. Ideally, community broadband networks should work within the framework of the community’s unique strengths and opportunities to keep costs down.
✓ Profitable Business Plan – The broadband network should keep revenue in the community to benefit the local economy.
Of course, knowing what you want is one thing. Making it happen is another thing entirely. Let’s talk about what leaders in rural Canada can do to bring this solution to their communities.
How to Build Revenue-Generating Community Broadband Networks in Rural Canada
The biggest barrier to providing high-speed internet is the cost of the infrastructure. It’s true in Canada, and it’s true in the United States.
As Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of the Rural Broadband Association, told The New Yorker, “The cost of infrastructure simply doesn’t change. It’s no different in a rural area than in Washington, D.C. But we’ve got thousands of people in a square mile to spread the cost among. You just don’t in rural areas.”
In rural Canada, like in the US, people and businesses are spread out over larger areas, so you need more infrastructure to connect fewer people.
Fortunately, there are a few things leaders in rural Canada can do to offset those costs and build a revenue-generating network, such as…
- Creating a business model that outlines a clear plan for a self-funded, revenue-generating rural broadband network
- Identifying rural broadband funding, grants, and government resources for financing the plan
- Exploring efficient, cost-saving practices that can help, such as “dig once” policies to ensure broadband infrastructure is built whenever digging is required to work on other utilities
- Creating a technical plan for building the infrastructure, using service providers familiar with and committed to servicing rural Canada
Don’t Do It Alone
Building a rural high-speed internet network and keeping the profits in the community is no small feat. No leader should have to tackle this complex problem on their own.
That’s why we launched a Community Broadband Networks solution. It’s a straightforward plan where ROCK Networks serves as a guide to help leaders of rural Canadian communities design, fund, plan, and build a high-quality, revenue-generating broadband network that fits their community’s needs.
We provide end-to-end support in three phases:
- Identify your community’s strengths and opportunities. We help you find a customized solution that minimizes costs and ensures universal access for your specific community.
- Create a custom roadmap and business model for revenue-generating broadband. This is where we ensure the profits will stay in rural Canada!
- Build a high-quality, broadband network with high-speed internet access for all. We even created Canada’s first rural broadband consortium to connect rural communities with best-in-class communication companies and experts.
With our Community Broadband Networks, leaders of rural Canada can ensure their entire community is connected with an ideal solution… and that the profits stay in their local community. Plus, with a clear process and expert guidance every step of the way, busy leaders of rural communities don’t have to feel overwhelmed, overworked, or worried about missing any important considerations.
In other words, we make it easy to do what’s best for your community!
Download our FREE Community Broadband Networks Guide
Let us help you plan and build a revenue-generating broadband network and lead your community into a sustainable future.