Steps to execute the project and the action plan
Mapping infrastructure needs
In order to fully identify opportunities and challenges, all existing infrastructure in the region should be mapped in detail including the expansion plans of the incumbent telecom operators, alternative wire-line or wireless operators and cable providers as well as public sector organisations and utilities.
The EU study on Mapping of broadband and infrastructures reviewed different mapping initiatives and proposed a methodology to conduct the mapping of infrastructure, services, investment and demand. An interactive online mapping application enables the visualisation of quality of service (QoS) for all EU Member States.
Deployment costs should be estimated in the action plan and matched to the possible customer base. This includes a detailed description on how the different financing tools are going to be used and a definition of the actions ensuring the availability of the needed funds.
Through the EU Directive on cost reduction measures, conditions for a more cost efficient network deployment are expected to be established.
Because municipalities and regions are probably the largest users of broadband in the local market, a plan to connect all public buildings with fibre should be made (public administration, healthcare institutes, hospitals, schools, etc.). This generally constitutes the core of the backbone network. A master plan should be made for the network including all parts of the local private market, houses, multi-dwelling units (MDU), business parks and shopping centres. This should result in a mapping of the area and a high-level network design. It is important to include broadband infrastructure when a new city planning is produced.
Procurement needs to be designed to reach the objectives set out in the broadband plan and has to implement the strategic choices. Market awareness is also a very important procurement activity. Due to the high complexity of this step, it is often recommended to rely on consultants and specialists. The SIMAP portal provides access to the most important information about public procurement in Europe.
Further phases in this context are:
- building phase (deployment);
- network launch;
- project evaluation.
These phases should be clearly defined in an action plan, which concretely outlines how the project shall be carried out according to the strategic choices. In parallel, the following activities need to be carried out:
It is crucial to make sure the project is properly monitored and its success is correctly evaluated. Monitoring will allow you to enforce the agreed targets from suppliers and contractors and to ensure competition among multiple service providers over the deployed NGN broadband network. Indicators for the monitoring include:
- physical deployment: Ensure the necessary network elements are indeed being deployed;
- service availability on different parts of the network according to schedule;
- service quality, in terms of actual down- and upload data rates, latency and failure rate;
- ensure that scheduled maintenance and repair takes place;
- number of new end-user connections activated.
Monitoring requirements should be set out in the contracts. In case of state aid, monitoring is mandated. Access (capacity, dark fibre or duct) should be provided to all service providers, without discrimination in terms of time, traffic management or quality of services limitation.
Identify potential customers
The plan should also identify potential customers such as end user, future operators and service providers. New actors will enter the local market when a new operator-neutral infrastructure is in place. If there is leasable infrastructure, several operators will see a business case in delivering services without the need to build it on their own. It is important that discussions with stakeholders take place early on and that many contracts and agreements are signed before deployment is started.
Establishing internal and external coordination and collaboration
A broadband investment project requires the coordination of many different activities, which include:
- assigning a coordinator for the broadband plan;
- establishing coordination between broadband and other infrastructural works to share civil-work costs;
- organising personal interviews and/or workshops with unit managers of your administrative units.
Stakeholder communication and management
Your action plan should include a shareholder communication and management plan. For a project’s success it is essential to ensure that all stakeholders are consulted during the course of the project and that you give them proper support. Local residents, business and enterprises are the most important stakeholders and should be integrated as early as possible. The public authority’s profile must be highlighted to make sure people can follow and determine the relevance and impacts for the region.
The main approach to government agencies is likely to be defined through Service Level Agreements or contracts relating to the provision of funds and/or the commitment to achieving key outputs. There should be formal reporting and meeting arrangements contained in these documents.
The main approach to managing relationships with suppliers is through the formal channels established in the various collaboration contracts. These channels should include formal reporting and meeting structures and the frequency of meetings at all relevant levels. You should also seek agreement with construction companies and housing organisations as these often represent the key to the end users. And indeed in many cases these take the role of Access Area PIP (Physical Infrastructure Provider).
The strongest community engagement is always found when it is led and managed from within the community itself. This is best achieved by a Broadband Champion, someone who is:
- already involved in the community (often in another role);
- respected by the community for that role and his/her achievements;
- passionate about maintaining the community alive;
- concerned about the lack of broadband and the effect this is having on the community’s social and economic life;
- a good communicator with a good general understanding of broadband.
It is important to remember that while the programme should enable and encourage Champions to learn from each other, they must always stay “rooted” in their community. This is where they add the greatest value and contribute more effectively to the success of the project.
Marketing and communication plan
In order to ensure consistency across all stakeholders and to maximise take-up, you should prepare a marketing and communication plan that considers:
- raising awareness of the expected economic and social benefits of broadband;
- providing an updated map of the broadband availability throughout the rollout of the project;
- facilitating demand aggregation from businesses, households and other relevant public authorities;
- managing customers’ expectations;
- consultations with subsets of the key stakeholders, particularly end-user customers;
- benefit awareness days and broadband education events;
- scheme and area launches throughout the roll-out;
- promotions consistent across all media channels;
- identification and publication of success studies on a regular basis.
The public sector has a significant role in stimulating demand as a major purchaser of services for its own use as well as potentially procuring the new network. It also has a responsibility to encourage the development of new services and the establishment of infrastructure. In the long term, using the infrastructure to drive demand in the digital economy is a natural part of regional development and planning and the regional growth.
Local communities can play a very important role in driving demand for new services. There are many examples of successful bottom-up initiatives developed on a co-operative or private sector basis.
Different levels of involvement imply different levels of influence on the decision making on a project. Three main variations can be identified:
- if the network infrastructure is fully owned by the public authority, then the authority has full control over any decision-making;
- for a private-public joint venture, a good approach is to consider the needs of the market and to have a board of public body stakeholders to oversee all decision-making;
- governance can be exercised through alternative methods of influence. This approach may be necessary when the public authority is not directly involved. The public authority can still be able to monitor activities of the project and refer any undesirable outcome to another enforcing body.