Background

 

Wolfe & Associates was retained in 2009 by the Olds Institute in Olds, Alberta to draft a high-level strategy for driving community awareness and uptake of its broadband network project (O-NET).  Delivered was the now-famous "white paper" that remains a core guiding document for Olds and other communities in Alberta considering or in the midst of developing their own advanced network infrastructures.

 

Approach

 

Building on experience we acquired in the early 2000s as lead research designers in the 3-year, federally funded study of the Alberta SuperNet, we were able to incorporate and expand significantly on that work and propose an extensive methodology for developing a "culture of use" among potential rural broadband subscribers/users.

 

Key elements

 

Core to the white paper's culture of use philosophy is community engagement that combines hands-on technology experience with a strong emphasis on storytelling.  

 

Results

 

W&A's work with the Olds Institute was prescient – along with O-NET representatives adopting new approaches to reaching and driving uptake in Olds, recent developments in rural or smaller community broadband in the United States further testify to the foresight and efficacy of the white paper's approach. This includes Sandy, Oregon, where technology demonstration was considered key in driving their gigabit network deployment, and in Tennessee, where that state's broadband advocate spent two years upfront researching broadband from social as well as technical perspectives, and where storytelling remains a primary component of the network's overall sustainability.  

 

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