If you build it, they will come.
Or will they?
This is “The $64,000 Question” that every Network owner is constantly asking themselves as they work to grow and scale their business. Ultimately, Network owners want to know:
We talked about several things to consider when going through this process on our webinar and blog post titled: WISP To FISP: 5 Things You Should Know and ultimately, successful Network owners find that the next best step in the preparation process is to invest in a Feasibility Study. While it’s an upfront cost, and no one loves those, it’s an important one. It’s one of those things that can (and likely will) save a lot of dollars and headaches down the road and make it pretty crystal clear on what next steps should be (and when). Here are 5 reasons why a Feasibility Study is an important investment:
While Network owners typically have a good grasp on what’s going on in their market(s), it’s amazing how often we report that xyz company has begun to pull permits for an area and the Network owner wasn’t aware of it. This isn’t necessarily a show stopper, but level of competition in an area no doubt plays into return on investment. It’s one thing to do “rough math” on ROI potential and it’s quite another to dig into the data and come away with a sound estimate. Even if you spend 4-5 figures on a Feasibility Study and it doesn’t produce the information you were hoping for, it’s far better than discovering the same outcome 6 figures into the process.
Determining take rate is critical when moving forward with a network build. Using GIS tools, this potential can be determined quickly and easily. More often than not, Network owners discover there is more – or less – potential for their project as a result of a Feasibility Study.
Additionally, a good Feasibility Study will present a few options to consider: Consider building here now because ______ and then consider building there later or never because ______. The beauty of investing in a quality Feasibility Study is that you will have many data driven options to consider.
A common question we receive is: How much will it cost to build a network? We get it, and we can answer that, however, we need many details before we can give an answer that will be remotely useful. You may think: Well, you know the mileage and you know what materials cost. What else do you need to know? For starters…
Of course, we want all of these things but, for example, cheapest AND best quality may not be possible. Lead times for particular materials may not line up with your deadlines. Certain ways of building are designed to deal with right-now-and-only-right-now and other methods set the stage for future expansion. A good Feasibility Study will never just put a cost out there and that’s that. It will instead offer up several options and combos so that a Network owner can land on a plan that meets their quality standards as well as their budget.
Especially in the current climate of municipalities facing the hard truth that there is not adequate broadband in their community to support the needs of those living there, many Network owners are presenting their Feasibility Study to a municipality and proposing partnership to close the digital gap. While not always and certainly not a guarantee, this is sometimes a way to share the cost of a Feasibility Study which is a win-win for everyone. The big takeaway here is to think big and think outside of the box with your projects and your planning.
It’s rare that we don’t see Network owners come away with far more potential projects than they thought they had before they had a Feasibility Study done. We also see Network owners come away with data that steers them away from what they had originally planned. The value of an in depth Feasibility Study from a quality GIS firm is that you have data – often more than you ever wanted to sift through – and that data turns into a business plan/roadmap that can keep a company growing and changing for years to come.
Have additional questions about Feasibility Studies? Contact us and we’ll let you know what might be the best next step based on your vision and goals.