This article brought to you by Lightbox.
When Georgia and Montana sought to expand broadband service to unserved and underserved regions in the state, they partnered with LightBox to produce maps that enabled public and private sector stakeholders to determine which buildings lacked access to high-speed Internet. LightBox provided data and mapping tools with an address-level perspective of unserved areas, allowing officials to direct government subsidies for projects that best fulfilled the needs of individuals, businesses, and institutions in those states.
Telecommunications companies seeking to bid for and service the areas identified by the state face several challenges before they can start digging to lay fiber. They must understand how densely populated a place is and what kind of structures are the most common—businesses, multi-family homes, single-family homes, schools, farms, industrial, etc.; how much fiber and equipment will be necessary to complete a buildout; and where connectors should be positioned. Planning and creating strong models require data from a wide range of sources, but that alone isn’t enough—this information must be linked to analyze and act upon.
“Identifying a good fabric of broadband serviceable locations is very important,” says former Montana broadband manager Chad Rupe. “We wanted to ensure we weren’t overlooking underserved neighborhoods and communities. Visual maps like those we developed with LightBox helped identify them. We can close the digital divide with a good map.”
LightBox’s SmartFabric location intelligence solution can help create those maps. It combines significant geospatial data assets, including parcel, building footprints, situs and sub-addresses, property characteristics, tax and deed information, broadband serviceable locations, business/residential property indicators, and much more. By linking these layers, providers can create meaningful connections between often disparate sources of information so they don’t have to seek data from multiple private and public entities, allowing them to focus on the work of expanding their networks and serving customers.
There are four SmartFabric use-cases for telecoms.
Broadband Feasibility Studies for Network Expansion
Telecoms can optimize their network investment planning by understanding the capital expenditures necessary for an acceptable return on investment on a build or network expansion. This is especially important if the project is part of the national push to provide internet access for all. States such as Georgia and Montana used funds made available by the Infrastructure and Jobs Act to expand broadband to underserved areas. Doing so requires states to provide detailed financial information about their projects.
From understanding the total addressable market, analysis of ROI for build options to land use, zoning, ownership and right of way investigation, SmartFabric can help with this feasibility effort. LightBox data is continually refreshed and improved to provide accurate data for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and U.S. territories. Accurate mapping is available for rural, remote, tribal, and other challenging areas. Comprehensive parcel data, detailed property and land-use data, accurate building footprint data, and complete addressing content can help telecoms determine which areas are suitable for building broadband networks.
“Government funds and grants to do buildout are restricted,” says Adam Carpenter, Montana’s chief data officer. “If we don’t have accurate information and the ISP doesn’t either when it starts work in some area, the federal government could claw back money. It’s a big deal if you dig 30 miles of a trench that you didn’t need to dig, especially if you lay cable in it. It’s crucial to avoid engineering parts of a buildout that won’t eventually be completed.”
Internet service providers need to understand where growth is happening and how that affects their current networks. Are most of the properties single-family homes? Multiple family homes? Businesses? And are developers planning to build more in a given area? If so, what will they build? Changes in demand load on a network can have far-reaching consequences, so careful planning is necessary for today and future needs.
With precision address-specific locations overlaid with demographics, SmartFabric users can model changes over time to understand demand trends and forecast future needs. Up-to-date address data built from more than 4,000 state, county, and local sources can support the analysis that lends itself to understanding current and future serviceability and the potential need for network maintenance and/or upgrades. Demand forecasting is easier with LightBox’s SmartFabric delivered with comprehensive primary addresses and secondary unit information, including building area and height, number of units or stories, year built, and more.
Planning & Engineering
As telecoms’ planning and engineering departments look at maintenance or expansion, they start with parcel information and building location data, then layer in information about their existing networks—junction boxes, existing fiber, which side of the street the fiber is on, what buildings look like, property access, etc.—to create a comprehensive view of the “nuts and bolts” of their engineering plan.
SmartFabric data helps because it covers every address at the highest locational accuracy, is linked to rich attribution and is enriched with residential and business indicators and unit counts for all addresses and buildings. The connected data includes parcel, assessor and building footprint datasets that let providers connect to virtually any geospatial and geodemographic dataset, including proprietary business data—utilizing a connected dataset with unique and persistent IDs allows users to build workflow models and processes without fear that the ID’s will change. They will have complete visibility of every aspect of their buildout plan, allowing them to insightfully design and engineer the project and avoid costly mistakes in design and realization.
Market analysis drives many aspects of what telecoms do, from efforts to attract potential new customers to determine how to bring cable service to a specific home. How does a provider reach various audiences and target desired segments across different channels and devices to reach the right customer at the right time?
LightBox data allows for the creation of audience segmentation that gives providers an understanding of target audiences across channels, screens, and devices with data points that help them communicate with prospects and with property owners and/or tenants if maintenance work is needed or a buildout is set to launch.
In the end, LightBox can play a vital role in the critical task of helping providers expand broadband access. Says Bill Price, vice president of government solutions at LightBox: “Our best-in-class data comes from a wide range of sources and will help states and providers create accurate, usable maps that help advance large-scale efforts to deliver broadband into every home.”
Contact LightBox to discover how SmartFabric can provide your business the right location intelligence to make smarter decisions. Contact us today: https://bit.ly/3K4pzeM