The 2022 fiscal year for Los Alamos County starts on July 1, and the FY22 budget that the County Council approved in April includes a recurring item for a Broadband Manager. The current staff will bring Council a new position description and salary to approve on June 29.
I think that the Broadband Manager will be key to improving broadband access in the County. It will require an unusual set of activities and skills. The same set of circumstances that has moved Los Alamos to begin moving again on broadband now has led a large number of other communities to make similar decisions. So there will be more competition for people and resources than there would have been even a year ago.
Here’s what I want the Broadband Manager to do:
- Understand and document the current state of the telecommunication business in the County. Take charge of the franchise agreements with telecommunication businesses in the County. If a bond measure is necessary, design one that voters would support.
- Understand and explain/document options for external support, eg, state or federal programs, and be ready to apply for grants or loans as needed.
- Develop several options for how County Government can improve telecommunication options, with estimates of cost, time to implement, and performance that residents and businesses would see. Coordinate with LANL and LA-Schools to support work and study from home.
- Understand and explain/document broadband initiatives in other communities in the US. Know what has succeeded and what has failed and what others are trying now.
Here are some skills and experience that the Broadband Manager will need:
- Work with bureaucrats and elected officials
- Develop and evaluate business plans
- Evaluate communication technologies. In particular be able answer questions about the likely future of satellite, microwave, DOCIS (cable modem) and fiber technology.
- Manage contracts
Here are some links that I found while thinking about what I’ve written:
- The National Conference of State Legislatures has a list of pending and enacted legislation in 47 states about broadband in 2021.
- Block Island, RI uses 2 percent municipal bonds with 40-year terms to fund conduit.
- Google Fiber’s wireline broadband is expanding to a new city for the first time in several years as part of a public-private partnership to build an open-access network that any ISP can use to offer service. The new network will be in West Des Moines, Iowa.
- We need a miracle, it’s very important.