Sustainable and Equitable Innovative Funding Strategies for Enhancing Broadband Initiative in Underserved and Disadvantaged Communities

Project ID: CTEDD 022-05

Author(s): Baabak Ashuri, Georgia Institute of Technology

Co-Author(s): Subhrajit Guhathakurta, Georgia Institute of Technology; Ge Zhang, Georgia Institute of Technology; Mohsen Shahandashti, University of Texas at Arlington; Evan Mistur, University of Texas at Arlington

CTEDD Funding Year: 2022 General RFP

Project Status: In Progress

The overarching objective of this project is to create an economically sustainable and socially equitable business model to utilize innovative funding strategies for enhancing broadband access in rural areas, and underserved and disadvantaged communities. This research will apply a mixed-method research methodology, combining quantitative and qualitative techniques to identify and evaluate innovative funding strategies in the practical context of broadband connectivity in underserved and disadvantaged communities. The data in this study will be collected from three primary sources:

  1. a survey,
  2. semi-structured individual interviews, and
  3. a focus group interview.

This research aims to develop an interactive map-based GIS application in a relevant environment as per TRL 6.

A guidebook of best practices will be developed to assist transportation agencies, Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), and local governments in deploying innovative funding strategies to enhance equality for broadband access and reduce the unproportionate allocation of cost to underserved and disadvantaged communities. The guide will include model contracts for establishing a public–private partnership (P3) agreement between a private developer and a government entity to deliver broadband projects. The P3 model contract will include appropriate risk mitigation and allocation measures that are proven to be effective to

  1. broaden the participation of private-sector developers,
  2. enhance competition in the broadband market, especially in rural areas, and underserved and disadvantaged communities, and
  3. ensure that the benefits and costs of broadband development projects do not disproportionally impact the underserved and disadvantaged communities.

This research will make scholarly contributions to the academic domain of infrastructure project finance through

  1. the identification and characterization of innovative funding strategies for broadband initiatives, and
  2. the creation of a new class of P3 models for balanced risk allocation and mitigation for broadband project delivery in rural areas, and underserved and disadvantaged communities.