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What Are The 5 A's of Organizing Your Community Broadband Project?

While broadband has tremendous potential to be an enabler for economic growth, it is still a utility – just like water, roads, and electricity. And in most communities in Colorado, utilities are in some way owned and controlled by the community. Community leaders are challenged to ensure their communities are not left behind. Like their visionaries that built the railroads, roads, and interstate system, today's elected officials must take up the challenge of building their community broadband infrastructure. If it were easy, it would have been built a long time ago. The 5 A's methodology provides a guide for community leaders in planning, funding, building and operating their broadband infrastructure.

#1 Aggregate Experience

You will need to establish a Local Broadband Planning Team. Team members are best recruited based on a) prior experience in efforts to improve the communities broadband environment b) elected officials c) technical expertise d) local service providers.

#2 Assess Your Broadband Environment

"Ya gotta count it before you can cure it". Why is your internet slow? Is it the infrastructure? If so, what part needs to be fixed? Is the middle mile "redundant, abundant and affordable"?


#3 Assess and Aggregate Demand

What internet speeds are people currently getting in your community? What do they pay for that? What speeds does your community need in order to retain and attract industry? What will businesses and residences pay for quality broadband? If you build it, will they come?


#4 Adopt Existing Resources and Solutions

What broadband-related resources already reside in your community? In using existing resources, it is possible to save millions of dollars in capital expenditure on broadband infrastructure. The use of disruptive technologies and carrier neutral locations can expedite the deployment of broadband in your community.


#5 Adapt for Sustainability

Once you have built it, how will you keep it running years, decades and generations into the future? What is the history of your electric utility? Water plant? Streets? What is the legal or business entity that will succeed year after year in maintaining broadband infrastructure?



Learn how better broadband is actually within your community's grasp

Frustrated with slow internet speeds, communities of rural Colorado are actively organizing, planning, funding and building better broadband environments to help them compete and win in 2012… and, of course, stream Netflix.

Currently eighteen Local Broadband Planning Teams are using the "5 A's" to organize their efforts.  The Rocky Mountain West is a place of action… we don't (and can’t) wait for others. We do it ourselves. "I'll Vote for You If You Make My Netflix Work!" is a hands-on guide for community leaders to form and drive their own Local Broadband Planning Team. This practical guide contains 8 case studies that demonstrate how even the poorest communities can organize to build their own broadband infrastructure with speeds and prices that rival what’s available to Denver and other urban centers.

Author Frank Ohrtman spent four years and traveled 30,000 miles organizing and observing Local Broadband Planning Teams across Colorado. He brings the reader his lessons learned in this concise guide to community broadband planning. All of the information contained in this book is based on his experience and expertise in working with dozens of communities in rural Colorado. These simple basics of organizing for community broadband can be applied almost anywhere from Colorado to the Congo and can be applied by communities, service providers and local governments.

Frank has lived and traveled in Colorado for over 20 years. He has lived and worked in Summit, Boulder, Douglas and Denver counties of Colorado.

These simple basics of organizing for community broadband can be applied almost anywhere from Colorado to the Congo and can be applied by communities, service providers and local governments.


The Aspen Tower near Crestone, CO: crowdfunded, solar-powered microwave middle mile. Disruptive technologies solve a problem.

3 Things to Remember In Organizing Your Community Broadband Effort:

1. The best solutions are local

2. One size fits all does not "fit" with broadband

3. It does NOT cost millions to bring broadband to your community

Too many communities suffer from non-existent broadband or slow internet speeds while expecting someone else to fix it. Wall Street-backed service providers will not fix it. Washington won't fix it. Do not look to your state capital for deliverance.

All fixes for your broadband environment must come from the community. This book provides a guide for facilitating those fixes. It also provides 8 case studies of communities in Colorado who followed the "5 A's" to improve their broadband environment on their own.