More than $75 billion in federal grants is coming to local broadband projects over the next five years. That sounds like a lot, but the process is extremely competitive.
Grantmakers both on the federal and state levels have historically received requests for way more money than they have to give out. So applicants need to act quickly and decisively. That’s why Ready.net launched Broadband.money, the fastest way for local broadband providers to discover and win their fair share of the historic grants.
We built this system to help local providers and projects get their share. These providers could be: a local internet service provider; a mom and pop run-ISP; a utility that runs an ISP or starting an ISP; rural electric cooperatives running ISPs. The common denominator is folks that are in the business of operating connectivity, and their partners.
We provide your projects with the needed software, geospatial mapping data, technological guidance, partners, matching capital and more. For now, listen or read this discuss to learn five things you can do to get ready for the tsunami of funding.
Trish Ehlers: Hello, everyone, and welcome to today's Fiber Broadband Association webinar. Get your share: Five keys to know ASAP about the $42 billion BEAD program. It's presented today by Broadband.money. I'm Trish Ehlers, Vice President of Membership, Industry Affairs and Operations for FBA. Today, I am very pleased to welcome Jase Wilson, CEO of Broadband.money. Welcome, Jase. To give you a little background information, Broadband.money helps local broadband providers get the resources they need in order to win. Broadband.money came from Ready.net, builders of incumbent grade software and financial services for local ISPs, whose mission is to help local broadband pros connect more families and businesses to better broadband services. Ready.net learned from customers that despite billions of dollars in broadband grants, qualified applicants with established track records are still expected to walk through hot coals and broken glass in order to obtain their share.
Trish Ehlers: And I'm sure many of you can relate to that. Often working hundreds of hours in order to build their applications. As a result, many skilled, qualified local providers choose not to apply, seeding their winnings to incumbents with lobbyists, grant teams and sophisticated data tools. That's why Ready.net launched Broadband.money, the fastest way to discover and win your share of broadband grants in the upcoming IIJA programs. With Broadband.money, local providers and communities can uncover areas of opportunity and research where to apply with loads of data sets and one easy to use geospatial interface. They can reduce headaches and propose and organize the many supporting documents your project applications will require. They can save time and apply to multiple states from a single application.
Trish Ehlers: They can get help and add your consultant to your application, or find great consultants through the program. They can match with community and provider partners. They can line up Match Capital from a variety of sources depending on your project plan and needs, and much, much more. Winners also get one touch ongoing reporting for federal, state, and jurisdictional reports, saving you time, money, and hassle. Broadband.money applicants will also receive the ready ISP bundle, a great collection of freebies, discounts, and services from Broadband.money's expert partner affiliates, currently valued at over $250,000. And now for a few housekeeping details before we get started, I will change my screen here. All attendees are in listen mode only today. If you have a question at any time and we're gonna be taking them throughout the presentation, please submit it with the questions box on your control panel on the right side of your screen.
Trish Ehlers: We'll have time at the Q&A session at the end to talk with Jase about that. Today's webinar will be available on the FBA website for members only under the events/webinars tab within 24 hours. And also, please join us on Wednesday, tomorrow, February 16th at 10 AM Eastern for Episode 7 of Fiber for Breakfast: Construction, Digitization, Digital Transformation for the Metaverse era. Gary Bolton, FBA's president and CEO, along with Subbu Meiyappan of ECSite, and Sean Adam of AFL, will discuss how construction, digitization can aid in addressing many of the challenges and inefficiencies in the deployment of optical networks.
Trish Ehlers: And now, I would like to welcome today's panelist, Jase Wilson, CEO of Broadband.money, who works to help broadband professionals win. Welcome, Jase. So very glad to have you here today. And with that, I am gonna transfer the controls over to you, so you can take the presentation from here. There you go.
Jase Wilson: Awesome.
Trish Ehlers: Your screen.
Jase Wilson: Yeah. Thank you so much, Trish. And also, thank you, Jennifer, and Fiber Broadband Association for the chance to connect and... Thank you everybody on this call for making time. I'm figuring out how to share my screen here, make sure I'm doing this right.
Trish Ehlers: Did it come up?
Jase Wilson: Can you see my screen?
Trish Ehlers: We got it. Perfect.
Jase Wilson: Alright, technology. Yeah. Thank you, folks, for, you know, taking a time out of your day. I know you're very busy. Hopefully, this is informative. I'll post it into the chat, ways if any of this is helpful, ways that you can get in touch in the future. But I wanna say again, thank you, Trish, for that awesome intro. I wish you would do this for me, this talk. I'm very nervous. You know, I don't show it. So you might have tuned in live to watch a guy pass out on a webcam. But if that happens, Trish, I think you could definitely take this over and can probably do a better job than me, so I appreciate you. And also, Jennifer, thank you both for making so much effort to get this connected, and folks on the call, thanks for joining.
Jase Wilson: So yeah, we're gonna talk a little bit today about some things that you should know as soon as possible about the upcoming $42 billion BEAD program, and a little bit about Broadband.money, the system that we've been building to help local projects and providers get their share of that program. First, I wanna reiterate, thank you all. If you're on the call, you're either joining to watch a guy pass out on a webcam or you're in the business of helping connect people, families, and businesses, and that means a lot to us at Broadband.money and Ready, you know we don't need to tell you any of this stuff. It's very important what you're doing. Our country right now, it's post-COVID, there's a digital canyon, you know, there's 7 in 100 kids according to Pew didn't get a chance to go to school at all online during multiple national lockdowns. So it's very important what you're doing, and full disclosure folks like, and this gives you a sense of how important is what you're doing, I live in the Bay Area in San Francisco, but in my town there are no fiber providers, so I'm not on a fiber connection, I'm on a crappy old copper connection, so if I'm stuttering, or jittering, or juking and jiving, it's not necessarily 'cause I'm terrible with this is it's well, probably it's that, but also I'm on a crappy old copper line.
Jase Wilson: So thank you for building folks and getting folks connected to fiber in the future, and it's your time, if nothing else just know, like you've been in the business for years, you've been working around the clock to get people connected to help broadband providers get the tools and resources they need, the fiber that they need, and what's coming is insane, right? It's a tsunami of grants. So we built this system, Broadband.money, to help local providers and projects get their share. A quick note about who is it for, it's for applicants they're directly applying right, to lead and it's sibling programs, but that could be a community that could be a local ISP right that's mom and pop that could be a utility that runs in ISP or starting an ISP, that could be rural electric cooperatives, right, that either have an ISP or looking to start one. And then there are lots of other flavors, but the common denominator is it's folks that are in the business of operating connectivity.
Jase Wilson: So it's also for their partners, right? One thing to know for sure about Broadband.money is it's not a consultant. It does make it really easy to invite your consultant or your project team into your application, and we'll get a look at that here in a few minutes, but it's not... It's on its own a consultant, and our recommendation is that you either have the consultant that you've worked with in the past, or we're working on a directory of awesome expert partner consultants that can help you to fill out your application and make the most of it so. Yeah, it's also for the communities that are going to be teaming up with these very providers, it's also for the investors that are putting capital into the Match Capital requirement for the program, and it's also for vendors that make awesome stuff that you want to see their customers get their share of the grant money and so yeah. To date, we launched it in late last year as a pre-enrollment process.
Jase Wilson: And many of you on this call today, we have seen you and some of you have even sat down to have a conversation with for the pre-enrollment process. Over 390 applicants, so far targeting over 6 million additional demand points, majority of which will be fiber have pre-enrolled so far covering 50 states, and three of the territories. North of $7 billion in grant sought in applicants through the system. And that's going to take at least 1.7 billion bucks worth of Match Capital from a bunch of different sources which we'll cover on this call, some of the interesting creative sources that you can think about. We'll pause right there. Trish, how am I doing? What do you think? Can folks hear me? Is it... Do I need to adjust my face or anything? Trish?
Trish Ehlers: You're doing fine Jase.
Jase Wilson: Sweet thanks. Just want to make sure. All right. So what is it? What is Broadband.money? It's a collection of tools, data, and resources designed to help local broadband projects and providers win their share of the upcoming grant programs. On one side, it's a tech-enabled operations and uploading system, right? And on another side, it's easy to follow geospatial insights and in both cases, it's a single platform that allows you to connect with resources, community partners, investors from Match Capital, and plug in your existing grant consultant or like I said, we're working on a directory of awesome expert partners that you can select through the system, if you don't already have one, and all those bells and whistles that you need. So take a quick look at one aspect of it, and you know how demos go, tech demos, so please bear with me here.
Jase Wilson: I think we want to start here, this is a quick glance at the system, and I'm sort of showing you halfway through an onboarding process, so please bear with me if it doesn't quite go as you expected. But this is taking a look at a place in my home state of Missouri and let's go through it. So we're walking through some stuff, a quick tour of the system, for folks that are pre-enrolled, we're in the process of rolling out beta access invites, we just sent the first five yesterday. We're gonna do batches of five until we get to fully stable and then we'll turn it on for the early access period, which anybody that was pre-enrolled prior to date, will be in part of that period next month, so it's always coming soon...
Trish Ehlers: Can you hear me?
Jase Wilson: Oh gee, thanks.
Trish Ehlers: Yeah, yeah.
Jase Wilson: Yeah, I can hear you.
Trish Ehlers: For some reason my mic wasn't working, but I'm back on so.
Jase Wilson: Okay. Well, it's good to hear you. Yeah, let's take a look, like... By the way folks on the call, I'm just a spokes dude, there's same insanely talented computer scientists, and data scientists, Broadband folks. Really great team at Ready and Broadband.money that built this set of systems, and we've worked with some really great folks from the industry to make sure that we have our bearings and that it's working the way that it should. And our existing customer base at Ready has won a combined $1.35 billion of prior grant programs, and was very much inspired by the journey that they go through, the hot coals and fire that Trish mentioned in the intro that we built it, and yeah, so there's a lot of hard working folks that go into it. I'm just the guy that wears a $3 trucker hat and sits on calls and gets to hang out with awesome folks like you. So we're looking around, we're seeing some data sets that you would normally have to pull together from a bunch of different sources in order to put all this stuff together in one place.
Jase Wilson: You're seeing it all in one setting here, and you'll notice that it's not just for the advertised speed in the sense of the FCC, for example, it's also Ookla. But with also grain of salt Ookla, you have to remember that they're, of course, advertising sponsored, and it's gonna be really interesting to see in areas where there's arguably unserved and unserved areas where the dividing line sits in the difference between which data set does the state choose to think about. So we wanna present them all to you in one place, show you your competition, show you who's won prior awards, show you some of the socio-demographics that you might be interested in, and then give you the ability to sort of build your application footprint.
Jase Wilson: In the interest of time though, I'll skip ahead for that, but you also have the ability to go in and edit your application once you're live. Again, I'm walking through this system. I think it's gonna lock me out until I'm actually going through there so let's try a different one real fast. Open, nope. To environment. Okay, I won't be able to show you the application process for... Right now, but you get asked a ton of questions and it's really cool the way it holds your hand, and if you apply and you want to add your consultants and you're able to plug them into your application, which I won't be able to show you that either, but... Yeah, so we move forward on this demo. Maybe it'll work by the time I'm done, but the cool thing about it is, there's a bunch of other tools that we're not gonna have time to show today that give you... If you're operating a network, if you're able to provide service to folks for your project, it gives you better than incumbent-grade subscriber experience tools. There's all kinds of fun stuff that's built into it if you... They're all optional, but it's ability to add additional revenue to your top line, save a little bit on your bottom line in the form of a more efficient operations and all kinds of great stuff there. So, yeah, let's go into the things that...
Trish Ehlers: Hey Jase?
Jase Wilson: Yeah, hey. Hey Trish.
Trish Ehlers: Shall we take a break and do a poll question real quick?
Jase Wilson: Yeah, please, go ahead. Fire up this poll, that'll be awesome.
Trish Ehlers: Let's do that. Let's get a read on where the audience is in terms of their grant applications. So, for everybody who's on right now, have you already gotten started or are you planning to do so in your grant application? So we've got five options there. We've got those who've started one to three months, within the past month, not sure, starting within a month or within one to three months from now. So, we'll let that go for just another couple of seconds and then I'll get back on and read it, but that'll give you an idea of where the audience is at. Looks like they're pretty on the ball, so I'm gonna close that poll out and pull the results back up. So, 53% has not started, so they're unsure if or when they're gonna start, but we do have 24% that started one to three months ago, and then we've got 12% that started within the last month. So, that's the top three categories are kind of where everything is clustered. So, I will turn it back to you, my friend, and hand it off for the next segment.
Jase Wilson: Great, thanks. Thanks to the folks that responded to the poll. Awesome.
Trish Ehlers: Cool.
Jase Wilson: Alright, so let's move on to some things to know about the programs. Whether or not you're pre-enrolled in Broadband.money, these things, hopefully, are useful to you. So first of all, get on their radar, and by "they" we mean everybody that's involved in the coming decision-making processes. That's your state or states. That's, in some states cases, the local communities that are gonna be shot callers in a lot of this process, and that's really awesome. It's very different from the prior grant programs in a lot of ways. It does mean like if you want to participate in this program, your best move right now is to get known, but it's not a sort of wait until the specs come out and then wait until the application portal comes out, and then suddenly pounce on it behind the scenes, which is sort of the FCC and traditional process of everybody's gonna hold their cards close to their chest and do their own bid.
Jase Wilson: This program is gonna be very much, who does a community endorse? Who's known by the state director? You're gonna still get a chance to submit all of your plan, of course, but it's gonna be a competitive advantage if you're already known and you already have a good track record that you can point to because this money is gonna be hyper-competitive. And so any of you that have been working on a plan for a really long time, get it published. Any of you that have been providing internet service for a long time and you have a good track record, get that word out there. So, one way you can do that are ISP directories, and there's a lot of great ISP directories out there.
Jase Wilson: A lot of them are advertising-driven, so we'll show you a real fast one that we made that plugs into the application process for Broadband.money but you can also just use it separately as a standalone thing. It's completely free. It's advertising free. It's a neutral directory of all providers, as far as we can tell. We constantly get people pinging us like, "Hey, add us," right. So I'll just show you really quickly like I mentioned earlier, where I live in Livermore, California, there are no fiber providers, right, that do residential fiber. As you can see here, there's one in my neighbor's place, you know, down the street, but not in my neighborhood. And look, if you look at this directory, a couple of things to know, some of you on the call are rural electric cooperatives of which there are none in the Livermore area, but that's something that we tag here in this directory. It's something that we celebrate. You know, if you're a community owned network, we try to track with that.
Jase Wilson: And that way, when you get to examples like advertising-driven directories, if you were to say like Wilson, North Carolina has got one of the greatest local networks ever built, and if you go to say like a broadband now, which is very much like an advertising-driven site, and you look up Wilson, it's like number one, it's like incumbent A, number two is incumbent B, right. And you got three or four even satellite providers. And it's like you scroll all the way down and you'll see a green light. You see their amazing local network. And that's to us, that's why we built it this way, is to celebrate and to promote fiber ISPs, to celebrate and promote community owned ISPs. And we gather all kinds of wonderful stuff about you from a bunch of different places on the web and put it into one convenient place. And this is one way of being known. Another is to join into the online discussion communities that already exists or that are copying up as a result of the incoming tsunami of grants. One is ours, which you can access. And I put the link in there, the discuss.broadband.money.
Jase Wilson: As an example, Carol Miller, who was the director of broadband for the state of New Hampshire, recently announced she's moving on. And then we have other people that are saying, "Okay, hey, I'm interested in this for my state." So join those conversations and introduce yourself is another thing here, 'cause several dozen of the broadband directors for states and for territories and all of the people that they rely on for various parts of their job are in this community, and so you introducing yourself can't hurt. And then lastly, get in touch with your state broadband offices, and here's one quick way to do it. There's the state broadband office directory, at Broadband.money under resources, and it gives you their contact information or you can just also fire off a quick note to them and learn a little bit more about what they're up to and we're working on a real-time news feed of each state directory, so stay tuned on that, it's coming. Alright. And physical communities, of course, right? You're gonna need to team up with some great local communities, or if you're local community, you're gonna need to team up with some great local providers, so getting that ahead already. The sooner that you can get going on your winning team, the better you're gonna do. Okay.
Jase Wilson: And it's getting into the ground level stuff of like how incumbents historically didn't really do their job, like this process, communities are gonna drive a lot of decisions in a lot of states. And that's great overall, unless you're incumbents and then that kind of sucks. And there's a well-known, well-documented, well-understood track record of incumbents getting grant money from past programs and at Broadband.money, we joke about it being allocated to the wrong Bs. Instead of broadband, it went to things like bonuses and buy backs and frankly BS in a lot of cases of marketing, even if you're not serving in the area, and that crap goes out the window with this program, which is cool, unless you're incumbent, oops. Okay. Number two. Do you understand ahead of time the reporting burden? This is not like the prior programs. This is night and day compared to prior programs.
Jase Wilson: Some of those prior programs were like, "Hey, you won 100 million bucks, congrats, here's the money every month into your account and send us a quarterly spreadsheet, and good luck." And that was basically it. And they've worked to toughen that up a little bit even in retrospect for the prior programs, some of them CAF II is the latest example, RDOF, the NTIA upcoming programs that are in the process of being announced, all learned from the sort of reporting situations of those programs. But in this new program, be clear from the outset that there is a huge reporting burden, but it's also an opportunity, if you're in the business of connecting people to better broadband, you wanna do a bleep job at doing it, what you would do is like use the upcoming reporting requirements which are all baked into the Broadband.money reporting system as an opportunity to get really good, really fast. So, let's take a quick look at some of that. Yeah, how do I do that, let's see. One second here.
Jase Wilson: Yeah, on one side, I'm showing you another aspect of the system, which is a complete reporting system that's built in, the ability to manage all of your subscribers in one place that you can attach to your OSS, your BSS systems, they can attach to your network monitoring systems, and even if you have multiple vendors and you're running a heterogeneous network, which by our data, 98% of you are, it puts everything together in one place for you, it keeps track of all the wonderful stuff. And if you're out publishing plans and you're like a lot of our customers, you have planned zones. You don't have the plan, you have, "Well, in this community, with this infrastructure, I'm charging X and these services are included, over here, I'm doing something a little bit different." So that's all stuff that's baked into the system and the ability to set service definitions and sort of map it, which is gonna be very handy for you in the upcoming broadband nutrition facts label equivalent.
Jase Wilson: It's gonna be it's own set of challenges. But in it sits also a complete reporting system, including a detailed audit trail of everything that happens, all of the wonderful revenue reports that you're gonna need to work with your taxing reports and everything that you would ever need to really go in and understand at a glance, it's all in there. And so it's not full automation, there are some wonderful partners in the ecosystem like ETI software that builds great automation tools, this is, in contrast it's basically semi-automatic. It's trying to be this close to one topic as possible for the things that you're gonna need to submit. Okay? And then two, it's not gonna be just this spreadsheet of like, "Hey, we got this many demand points this quarter." It's gonna be, in many cases, monthly, in many cases, it's also going to include active measurements.
Jase Wilson: In some cases, it's going to include proactive measurements. And some of these cases, they're gonna be things that you're gonna need to submit on a randomized basis, they're gonna be things that you need to submit, that you need to understand are gonna happen even if you're not the submitter. They're gonna be sort of secret shopper kinds of tests. So another thing to think about is when you're building out your testing, our system puts it all together in one place, it can talk to all of your network monitoring systems and bring all that fact finding together for you in one place and put them in one report, and then proactive measurements, when you're looking for those, you can go and test this out, it's our accurate measurement system that's showing you my really crappy not fiber in action right now. But the key difference is unlike prior systems, it uses WebSockets.
Jase Wilson: So it's gonna give you a really detailed understanding of a specific describers real-time observations. So that's all coming, that's gonna be part of your reporting program. So keep that in mind. Number three is to question your assumptions. And we've spoken with over 75 of the pre-enrolled folks of the 390 plus that are pre-enrolled, and we've gotten a pretty good understanding, we've gathered our favorite assumptions, and I'm gonna run through a few of them right now.
Trish Ehlers: Hey Jase, it's Trish.
Jase Wilson: Hey Trish.
Trish Ehlers: Hi, it might be a good time to run our second poll, since we're talking about assumptions and things that folks think about when they are applying for Broadband Grants. So shall we give it a shot? Alright cool.
Jase Wilson: Let's do it. Yep.
Trish Ehlers: Alright. So when it comes to applying for Broadband Grants, what do you assume are your biggest challenges? One, not knowing what to do; two, lining up suitable Match Capital; three developing the project plan; four, researching where to apply or market analysis; and four, designing the target network? So we'll give this a few more minutes, we've got some definite activity, and I am seeing your questions come in, we are gonna get those to Jase. So keep those coming. Alright, we're gonna close the poll. We'll get you the answers here. So 46% biggest challenge, they don't know what to do. So, from our perspective, that's something we see a lot on the FBA side, and I know we're working and you're working to help with that. 35% researching where to apply. There's so many different grants out there and different programs, 25% lining up a suitable match capital, 14% developing the project plan and 12% designing the target network. So there you go, and I will flip it back to you for getting to people's assumptions.
Jase Wilson: Awesome, thank you Trish. When this is all said and done, we wanna send you one of these $3 trucker hats for all of your hard work here so...
Trish Ehlers: Hey you promised that before. You better come through man.
Jase Wilson: Well, we'll get you one. We'll get you two.
Trish Ehlers: Alright I'm counting on it.
Jase Wilson: Let's see, so since a number of you are having challenges with what to do, one thing to know is that none of this is set in stone, and that it's still very much fluid in a lot of the states' cases. So one assumption that we've heard like, "Yeah, we're waiting for the rules." The wait and see attitude in this case, is probably not a winning strategy, and in many cases, the definitions are still very fluid about states as they're figuring out, lining it up, those states wanna hear from you. If you're in the business of connecting people, those state offices, a lot of those folks are economic development, they're working their tails off to get plans in place, to get everything lined up to be neutral.
Jase Wilson: And to help make sure that they're gonna make the most of this historic opportunity, but you have the knowledge, right? So you've been connecting people. You've been building parts that go into networks. You've been, you know, part of their supply chains. You've been consultants to some of the big projects in the country, right? Or you've done projects in the past, right? As communities on the call or you've learned something, right. Get loud about that stuff, go and share that stuff with communities like discuss.broadband.money, and I'm sure there are other communities out there, you know, but just don't assume that, you know, those things are set in stone or that they're just gonna be given to you, and that you have to accept them as they are. That said, you have to move very quickly because everything, all the wheels are in motion.
Jase Wilson: We track very closely with each of the states and territories. A few of them look to us like they're gonna be... They're not gonna... No one's gonna get a goose egg. Right? Like your minimum for not participating in the planning is a 100 million bucks. But you know, the vast majority look like they're already well into motion on the, on the planning. Okay. But you should weigh in on the plan. The planning process it's not sacred. It's not... It should not be something that's guided by the incumbents that have the best looking lobbyists that can take the people out for steak dinners. It should be guided by people like you that have rolled up your sleeves and gotten people connected. Okay. So get loud about what you know.
Jase Wilson: And paradox is the more that you share, the more that rep you build online in provable ways, the more helpful you should prove yourself to be in that regard, the more you're on the minds of people that are making the decisions about the funding. Okay. So, you know, share what you know. As one of our expert partner vendors that will announce in a couple of weeks said, put it to us. A community that's waiting is already... The project is already dead. That's hyperbolic, but it's, you know, let that resonate a little bit, you gotta get moving now.
Jase Wilson: Another is the... It's never too early to start getting, building your understanding. So I wanted to show you really quickly, everybody, another resource that you have in the resource center, check back, bookmark it. It's okay, right now, it's gonna get better and better each week as we deploy more resources, we're syncing quite a bit of resource and investment with awesome legal teams. Our friends at Broadband Breakfast are out doing like huge amounts of research, right? There's a bunch of great stuff that's going to be together, so in the end, it'll hopefully be the most helpful broadband grant resource center.
Jase Wilson: It's also neutral. Like if you wanna understand sort of, from a perspective, that's like very much open to anybody, all locks, like it's a great place to do that. There's all kinds of stuff, including directory of terms, the state broadband office directory that we looked at. Coming soon are like key excerpts and highlights and like lawyers that speak English as well, translating those into lay speak so that it's like the sort of technical dense definition, you know, $5,000 an hour to write. And then the version that's stripped of $5 words that makes sense to guys like me. So yeah, if I can read it, then it's good, but...
Jase Wilson: And then there's all kinds of like other resources and a wonderful array of things like we've done to like community events, like we just did an Ask Me Anything, for example, with the father of the internet, Vint Cerf, right? That's a must watch in my view, because there were all kinds of really cool insights, especially about the points about mapping and about measurements and monitoring, and Vint was not only like co-creator of the initial protocol of the internet, but also a huge early proponent of mLab and getting things going in the right direction with open monitoring and measurements so very cool stuff there. So keep checking back and then yeah. Let's see, back to my presentation here. Yeah.
Jase Wilson: And they, you know what they say about assumption? I know that's a, it's a, that's a bad joke. But anyway. Another assumption that we keep hearing is like, "Yeah, gigabit is gonna be fun." Is it? One of the things that we love most about Fiber Broadband Association is that everybody is committed to fiber to the fullest extent possible. Is it gonna go everywhere? No. Is it gonna go most places? Hopefully. And that's what's cool about you all, what you all are doing to connect our nation to each other and to the future, is fiber is the one that you can do and over time make it better and better and better including capacity and throughput.
Jase Wilson: In this case, like you gotta remember Nielsen's law, it's a little slower than Moore's law on the processing side, but not by much. And it's held true for almost four decades, so there's no real reason to think that it's not gonna hold true for the next decade. And if it holds true for the next decade, in fact, even if you cut it in half, right, and you take it from a 48% CAGR down to a 25% CAGR, you still end up with the harsh reality that the average American household in 2030 will regard gigabit as adequate at best, if not completely useless. So, you know, keep pulling that fiber, keep advocating for multi gigabit and don't make that assumption, alright?
Jase Wilson: And then a final one that I'll share is we hear a lot of folks that think like, well, you know, historically the programs that came about were awarded to incumbents and they used the money to crush me. They used the money to advertise on advertising driven directories and billboards, even if they're not serving in the area. They spent the money on bonuses buybacks BS, and they have really good looking lobbyists with lots of steak dinner budgets, and I don't have any of that crap and so I'm not gonna get the money on this one.
Jase Wilson: This program is not business as usual. This program is very different from prior programs on purpose. And this program, if it's done correctly can go into your hands, but you gotta be ready to receive it and ready to step up and get your share of it. Okay. And that gets back to like getting that orders to get known, right. Challenges, assumptions. And then, oh, I forgot one that's important. We've heard this one, five times now, so we wanna share it with you.
Jase Wilson: It's either a variant that well if an area received RDOF award, it's not gonna receive IIJA or another variant of that is, they're just going to call off RDOF I, right, and we agree the RDOF II is probably dead in the water, right, but if you look at the latent litigation, it's like waiting on the sidelines to sue the FCC if they don't follow through with that commitment. That's a pretty big decision, right. That's a big assumption to make, that they're gonna just call off RDOF I or say, "You know what, we're actually replacing it with this program." And then two, there are provisions inside of IIJA to say, yes, it's up to the states to decide how they wanna carve out where award areas might overlap, existing award areas, and so some states might say, "We only want one or the other." Right.
Jase Wilson: But think about the mental math of that, right, why would you turn down that additional investment infrastructure and service into your state? And especially knowing the RDOF like, yeah, it's supposed to be out the door, ready on all the cases, but it's inching along, there's a real need right now in rural areas for connectivity yesterday, so why on Earth would any state say, "Well, we're gonna actually cancel any RDOF, we're not gonna actually allow it to be awarded by IIJA and cause any kind of possible mutual exclusion of the two programs."
Jase Wilson: So that one we say, do your own homework on it, right, we did it. We double, triple-checked ourselves, we see the inter-agency coordination, we see murmurs of it, and we also see that harsh reality that that's a multi-billion dollar thing waiting in the sidelines of, if it goes the direction of cancelling RDOF I, and it's also something where it would go against a lot of the principles of what everybody at the FCC works so hard to ensure of that program of getting people connected fast, so don't necessarily make that assumption. Alright Trish, since we're going to that point, what do you think about another poll question, is it time?
Trish Ehlers: I think it's time Jase, so why don't we pull it up? We've got one last poll question. Let's pull it up. You're getting good at this. Alright, additionally, when it comes to applying for broadband grants, what's your biggest challenge: Partnering with communities? Partnering with skilled providers? Unclear plans from your state for organizing application information. So all of these sound pretty difficult to me, but keep in mind, FBA's got that playbook coming out, so that should assist with that. Alright, I'm gonna go ahead and close the poll down and we'll get those results back up, so 52% unclear plans from your state, so that's a major roadblock there, 36% organizing your application information, 22% partnering with communities, and 11% partnering with skilled providers, and you were allowed multiple answers on that, so that's the reason I think we've got more than 100% their Jase, but there is your poll.
Jase Wilson: It's great to hear. Thank you, Trish.
Trish Ehlers: You bet.
Jase Wilson: Alright, well, Match Capital. A couple of things. The point to make is get creative with it, be open-minded about it. Right. We're releasing a resource center node around Match Capital that's pretty in-depth, it's gonna track with like all of the different awesome sources. The thing to know about IIJA though is it's beautifully expressive and inclusive for Match Capital sources. It pairs nicely with things like ARPA. And smart communities know that they could take that a step further and say, "We got ARPA coming." Maybe we can bond again in anticipation. These are interesting plays from prior infrastructure playbooks, but there's no reason to think that there is a shortage of Match Capital. However, if you're a private provider in the community model that you end up with is a public-private partnership and you still need Match Capital from the private sector, yeah, there's equity and debt, and those come in a bunch of different flavors, make sure that you do a lot of conversations with a lot of potential partners.
Jase Wilson: One of the beautiful things about it if you're a broadband.money enrollee is, you answer the diligence questionnaire on behalf of future network of different types of Match Capital provider, so you don't have to repeat that diligence process with every investor that you're sitting down with, and that's gonna save you a lot of time. It's also gonna help you to put your best foot forward, but it's gonna help you to focus on your fundamentals and helping you tell your story and helping you stand out right. As they're gearing up, and there are many billions of dollars of private money being raised or have already been raised in anticipation of this program. You're gonna have your pick, right, but you're gonna need to work a lot to get access. The most prepared communities and projects that are able to get their ducks in row soon and get in front of those types of investors from all stripes as fast as possible, they're gonna be the ones that... They're gonna be the ones that enter the diligence process first, they're gonna be top of mind, they're gonna have additional months of time for feedback and iterations to get to closure on something that works for all the parties. So get creative, interview a lot of folks. Answer all the questions to the best of your abilities, get proactive where you can. One aspect of our system, if you're running one of the top billing systems and...
Jase Wilson: The market, we can install analytics.js that can track it, at a source of truth for your top line. Those type of things are very good. And they also open up new dimensions of Match Capital from different sources, like there's this growing movement of forward receivables fall under that banner that are purchased, your future cashflow, and that can be really interesting through sort of a non-dilutive, non to exercise. And yeah, there's all kinds of great stuff, but the key there is to be very creative, and so that creativity in our view starts with sort of an understanding of the universe of possibilities. So stay tuned to the resource center, and if you're pre-enrolled, you're gonna get, and you told us... Like 74% of you said you indicated interest in Match Capital, that means that we get to help you with that part of the journey.
Jase Wilson: And the other part of that is like you're creative but also do it now. Don't wait until the very end. Several of our customers have one very large awards in prior programs, and one common denominator that we found is that at the end of the program, they're like. "Oh yeah, we won." Let's go and get serious about it, and it goes from a letter of something to, "Now let's get into the nitty-gritty." And it turns into a multi-months delay on getting the award and you don't want that. So make sure that you're getting that stuff lined up sooner rather than later. Cool. That was one. That was another thing. Trish. So what do you think? Is it time for another poll?
Trish Ehlers: Well, I think we've done our polls, we've had three, so let's go through your number five and then let's start answering some questions, 'cause we've got a number of questions.
Jase Wilson: Absolutely.
Trish Ehlers: Cool.
Jase Wilson: Oh sweet. Yeah. Well, number five is, back to that theme of, get going now, is build your winning team. You're not alone in this. A number of you indicated that you don't know what's going on, you're not alone in that either as you saw. At the same time, communities if you're already working on programs, it's a great time to start interviewing strong local providers. If you want pre-enrolled Broadband.money, we can help you match make, you can go and find some great providers in the community, there are directories like ISP.Me, where you can go and see who's serving in what area. Get to know them, see who you like, see who has the track record of service, and both sides reach out like it is time to dance, okay? And then there's a community of expert partners coming together. Many of you have already started the process, many of have already won grant awards in the past, and you've used great consultants, so it's time to be talking to them about this upcoming program, it's time to be engaging with them, right?
Jase Wilson: And the folks that are coming into the process that have products and services that can be used by applications, there's some really great technologies out there that can be used for different parts of the network planning and design process, and getting established, getting things setup and getting established, getting the equipment in place, it's a great time to be going around and putting together the what ifs, with the main what if being, "What if we win? Then what?"
Jase Wilson: So get your plan going, get your team going, it's really important to start that process so. And we wanna be helpful wherever we can and to be a part of your team, like our mission here at Broadband.money is to help local providers and projects get their share of the upcoming programs, so that you all can go out and connect more families and businesses to better broadband, full stop. And it's... Again, I'm the spokes dude, but there's an incredibly talented team of engineers, data science folks, and a community of folks that we've engaged to help you with every step of that process.
Jase Wilson: And so one thing to know is, as Trish mentioned at the beginning, there's the Ready ISP bundle, and it's already valued over 250,000 bucks, we'll be announcing it, hopefully next month with our friends at tele competitor, so stay tuned for that, but it's a collection of resources and freebies and scale discount opportunities with some awesome vendors where if you say... You have a thousand subscribers today and you have a vision of getting to 10,000 subscribers, how much better could you do on your application? How much money could you save if you had the purchasing power of a 100,000 subscriber operator? That's the kind of scale things that we'll put in together for you. So we wanna be on your team, we wanna get whatever data you need, ping us any time, pre-enrollees have direct channels of access to us, and we're there for you, so think about us on your team. Alright?
Jase Wilson: Oh and I just wanna say thank you again to the Fiber Broadband association, and everybody that's a member here that's on the call today thank you for getting folks connected, for sharing your time and doing all the awesome work that you're doing, we know that you're working your tails off and like we said, we're here to help if you wanna pre enroll the system I said Broadband.money. There's a community of folks, you could find that through Broadband.money or go straight to discuss.broadband.money and join into 300 plus different folks that are out working to get folks connected and introduce yourselves. Keep an eye on that resource center, it's gonna be increasingly awesome. It's already pretty decent now, and if you need anything, and you don't wanna go to any of those websites just hit us up at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we'll reply as soon as we can. Thank you.
Trish Ehlers: Great. Very cool. Thank you, Jase. We do have some great questions. The first one, just to clarify. Can you explain... We had somebody say, what is pre-enrolled versus what is enrolled? Just kind of explain those terms you were using.
Jase Wilson: Pre-enrolled is four minutes and anybody can go to the site broadband.money and get access to it. From there, we vet each pre-enrollee to make sure that you're in fact, an actual, you know, provider, or will route you over to the expert partner program. If you're say a consultant or a vendor that wants to help customers win their share, you know, it's a separate flow for such folks and there are front doors for you too. And we welcome working with you and teaming up and helping mutual customers win. But the pre-enrollment process is four minutes. It's maybe nine questions and it's very lightweight. Enrollment is if you indicated the interest in Match Capital, it's the 38 diligence questions for financial due diligence. Right?
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: It's like why? Why in the heck would I wanna do all that? You're gonna need to do that whether you do it there and we build a system that allows you to do that as easily as possible and in one place and invite applicant, team members to help you do it. And you'll have to fill that out whether or not you wanna do it. If you're gonna apply to like multiple states, in some states' cases, it's definitely gonna be the case that you gotta fill out, you know, docs on this state, this state, this state.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: What we built was like a kind of core geo vision, like the model that gets built that describes your project and the businesses involved with it. It would be like a tree and you're answering those core questions once that you're gonna find in most of the states, and then it branches out into this specific state wants a specific piece of information. And in your case, there's this weird recursive thing that you need to go in and so it's gonna manage all those workflows for you and replace it. So the enrollment is like a long, longer journey. It's gonna take you a few days. Yeah.
Trish Ehlers: Okay. Okay, cool. Thank you. Good clarification. Excuse me there. All right. We had a question from PJ. Where are you getting your data set information? FCC, independent directories, where... Is that something you're willing to share or is that part...
Jase Wilson: Yeah, of course.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: A lot of places.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: Over 10 sources. Yeah. 477, great. NTIA has its datasets, great. Census has datasets, great. But then there are a number of proprietary datasets that we've licensed to make available to you. Recreate partial information, even down to multi-dwelling unit level. So that you can develop like a really good understanding on your application footprint of where, you know, yeah, there's like 50 buildings in the census block, but there's 350 units.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: And the socio demographics are such not just by what does the census say and it's the latest census stuff which is great to have. But also what do some of the other proprietary datasets say? And also datasets that come from abstractions of things like aggregate outputs of network monitoring systems deployed in an area.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: Those are really interesting things that you'd have to work pretty hard to, like our data team to put together in one place.
Trish Ehlers: You do, and you pull them all together which is awesome and make them available which I think is fantastic. Zach said, "First of all, thank you for the overview, Jase. Can you expand on where the speed test data is pulled from?"
Jase Wilson: Yep.
Trish Ehlers: Provided from partner ISPs, the FCC, where from?
Jase Wilson: Yes. Partner ISPs, FCC reported data, Ookla, and mLab. And the active strength test that we developed that it leverages web sockets instead of HTTP only, where that's getting deployed we're also pulling that in. So each time somebody goes and takes a test at like one of the surface areas like a wifi.wtf. It's also an embeddable plugin that if you're running an ISP website and you wanna run free test, it's not gonna crush you on the results page.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: You can use it and embed it into WordPress sites and stuff like that. So every time one of those gets taken, write it in a footprint, and you're observing something in that footprint, then that's included as well.
Trish Ehlers: Okay, cool. Question on do you manage open access networks or connect communities to providers that can manage open access networks?
Jase Wilson: We don't manage open access networks. We're big fans of open access networks. There are a lot of amazing developers of OANs in the United States that are working really hard to make that model better and better. We've seen some great software out of groups like COS in Sweden, some of the OGs of open access networks and you know, but we can definitely pair you with awesome ISPs that are either adjacent to an OAN market that you're developing or you maybe wanna bring in ringers. We've supported that case in a couple of instances with existing customers and would be more than happy to help you do that on as part of this process. But we don't have anything that manages open access networks directly.
Trish Ehlers: Okay. Alright. Message from Kate. "I am from Colorado and represent the state and just wanna say thank you to Jase and FBA... "
Jase Wilson: Okay, thanks.
Trish Ehlers: "For this great presentation." The message has been we've been saying to the providers in the state and are communicating and they're... And she's very grateful that we are echoing the same message so just wanted...
Jase Wilson: Awesome.
Trish Ehlers: To throw that out there and let you know the feedback. So...
Jase Wilson: Awesome.
Trish Ehlers: Someone asked, "Is there a resell program for the software?"
Jase Wilson: Oh yeah, that's what the expert partner program does.
Trish Ehlers: Great question. Yeah.
Jase Wilson: Yeah, that's a great question. It lets you go in and put... If you have multiple entities, and this is... It was built on a couple of really great grant writers that have to manage not just this one project, that one project... Stacks and stacks of them. So, it was built around in the case of multi-organization management in one place so it's... The entire underlying software was built around the role-based accounts and permissioning. So... And multi-organization and sub-organization architecture that allows you to keep track of these 10 applicants, so that's definitely a valid case and one that's already supported. We welcome an opportunity to talk about it with you.
Trish Ehlers: Okay, great. We've got time for one more question. I'm gonna take one from William, and then if we didn't get to your question, Jase will get back to you on those. And he shared his contact information, please feel free to reach out to him. I can truly attest how accessible he is. Would an ISP be better served talking to community level or at the state level? As an example, we may not have network throughout the state, but may have substantial network in a specific region of a state.
Jase Wilson: Yeah. No, it's great. And that's the default case. You're not statewide, you're local.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: You have the ambition to upgrade your network to over-build yourself, say you're a whiz that wants to get into fiber of your fiber provider. And you've connected like these communities, and you wanna go to these 10 extra communities with... Whether or not that's specifically within your one state, you're still are going to apply at the state level.
Trish Ehlers: Okay. Sure.
Jase Wilson: And it's... Success to us does look like a lot of folks like that, that are on the ground that have the networks, it's like a few 100 to a few 1000 subscribers, maybe it's this corner, a quadrant of the state. But they're able to expand out into other parts that have been historically overlooked. That's something that we help with too. So, it's sort of footprint analysis and helping you figure out where you wanna grow. So, that's a great case.
Trish Ehlers: Fantastic. Well, we are at the top of the hour, so we're gonna have to close the Jase and Trish Show, but I wanna thank the world's smartest spokes dude for... And Broadband.net...
Jase Wilson: Not that very much.
Trish Ehlers: And Ready.net for your presentation today. I think we had a lot of great questions and a lot of information. So please do reach out to Jase if you want more information or have questions. So...
Jase Wilson: Yeah.
Trish Ehlers: Jase, anything you wanna say to sign off?
Jase Wilson: One more thank you. It's hard to do what you're doing out there. Trish, Jennifer, awesome job. I do want to send a shoutout... We have upcoming, Ask Me Anything's. Next Friday is with Darren Farnan, he's the COO of United Fibers, one of the first RSCISP's. It's gonna be awesome. And then upcoming in March, we have the wonderful Gary Bolton. It's gonna be a great session. So, we're gonna grill them and if you want to give them a hard time then we're looking for hecklers.
Trish Ehlers: Okay.
Jase Wilson: Sign up at Broadband.money.
Trish Ehlers: We can do that. All right. Join us tomorrow for Fiber for Breakfast. Thanks for joining us today. And Jase, we'll talk to you soon. Take care, everybody.
Jase Wilson: Alright. Have a good day everybody.