Bandwidth Assessment Tool

GIS & Mapping

Oct 21, 2016

Client:    State of Wisconsin

Staff:     Mike Wilson, Luis Rodriguez

Date:      2014

Model:    CostQuest Cost Model (CQCM)

Businesses today are redefining bandwidth as a requirement and no longer as a value added service.  Bandwidth is now an essential commodity, in the same category as power, water, sewer, and other vital services.  In order for businesses and other entities to be effective in the information intensive economy, they need bandwidth to be delivered on a redundant infrastructure, which provides the speed and even more essential the reliability of constant service.   

Fueled by the realized benefits of information, communication, and commerce over the Internet, businesses and residential demand for more flexible, higher speed services are increasing.  The need for additional bandwidth is expected to grow exponentially year over year, especially in densely populated or urban areas.   With this type of rapid growth, some rural state and local planners are finding that providers have less incentive to provide the bandwidth necessary for rural businesses to compete in today’s economy or it’s not economically feasible for most rural entities to obtain. Part of this has to do with having virtually little to no accurate way of determining demand in a given area, (let alone costs for meeting such demand). CostQuest Associates has identified this need and we are currently in the process of creating a web based bandwidth assessment tool/application which will help state and local planners determine and meet the expanding broadband requirements of their businesses and communities. 

For today’s businesses and communities to benefit from the infrastructure build-outs and advances in technology, state and local planner must become “Bandwidth Needs Intelligent.”  Communities must evolve beyond the limited closed systems currently in place and continue to build upon more open transport systems therein providing businesses and homes with more choice at lower costs.  Traditional solutions (i.e., of single-use telephones, or video service providers) will not be able to accommodate required diversity in service demand (i.e. HD Quality Video Streaming, VoIP, Advanced Interactive Applications, etc.) due primarily to lack of flexibility and/or over capacity.  To help inform this issue, CostQuest Associates’ real-world demand assessment and cost tool is designed to provide an accurate interpretation of end user needs and costs to serve.

About Bandwidth Assessment Tool

CostQuest Associates has determined a need for providing various stakeholders with an accurate and real-world bandwidth needs/demand assessment at a specific location for a specific business/organization. This web based application will provide clients with a detailed understanding of bandwidth consisting of speed, connections, and technology type required at a given location.  If service currently exists in the chosen area, the application will identify potential providers and if desired, would submit an address specific ‘request for service’ to area providers (who have opted in).  In the event that there is no service available, the application references a regional cost model to help inform users about some of the important background issues and provides suggestions (and relevant local and state contact information) on how to request service and get involved with ongoing policy considerations.

How it Works 

The Bandwidth Assessment Tool is fairly simple to understand and engage with/use. In many cases it is being used by people with limited knowledge in the technology sector. For example, a likely use scenario is where a local economic development expert will use the tool to help a business prospect identify their bandwidth requirements as they work to determine viable locations for their business. In another use scenario, an existing business can use the tool to help define current and future bandwidth requirements in their efforts to determine the viability of their current location and service options. The tool is executed online through a three phase process. 

  • Phase I Questionnaire Phase: The first phase consists of a questionnaire which will ask for a you (the prospective user’s) demographic information collect use and capacity metrics and lastly, inquire about further needs and growth expectations. 
  • Phase II Recommendation Phase: This phase takes into account the location, use, capacity, and future need metrics provided in the earlier phase and through a series of algorithms (using connected databases) to provide an accurate and real-world assessment of the bandwidth necessary, including a recommended speed, number of connections, and most optimal technology type (among other things).
  • Phase III Reporting Phase: The third and final phase consists of reporting.  The application then provides a user with varying reports of the assessed recommendation.