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Frequently Asked Questions

STARS is sustainable set of strategies and solutions that use existing and new technology infrastructure and the community's social infrastructure (government, education, medical, etc.) to create revenue-generating and job-creating solutions. The program utilizes local human resources and assets, local and major providers, and the best practices of proven solutions and models across all sectors. STARS' use cases are a win-win-win proposition for providers- stakeholders-members.

STARS leverages federal and state programs to provide non-subscriber-based income streams and revenues to attract private sector vendors and investors to create the enterprise-size customer that is critical for providers and is the primary cause of communities not being served or being underserved.

There are many social factors, issues, concerns that affect rural and remote technology provisioning. In all sectors, whether government, education, medical, commercial, industrial, and consumer markets, there are well-known issues such as the digital divide, the homework gap, 1:1 device provisioning for students, distance learning, telemedicine, telehealth, and the list goes on. There are over 400 general considerations for comprehensive technology solutions that consider the supply chain, the value chain, and community impact.

The program leverages five uncommon of these communities; 1) an unserved/underserved customer base, 2) under-used technology and resources, 3) a large eligible beneficiary base for state and federal program, 4) unleveraged subsidies and funding, and 5) low-density populations.

Initial focus in on community anchor institutions in the government, education, and medical (GEM) sectors. They share constituents and have shared issues and concerns but very different fiscal priorities and program metrics. The program respects those dynamics and factors them into all strategies and solutions.

They have no desire to develop or deliver socio-technical integrated solutions. Their primary goal and barrier are profitability. Many providers simply cannot justify the expense of building technology infrastructure for sparsely populated or low-income communities. We buy program services from the existing providers.

The longtime barriers that the program overcomes are,

1.) Funding (CAPEX and OPEX)

2.) Regulatory (laws and regulation restricting community broadband)

3.) Adoption (take-rate, applications, and use)

4.) Profitability (including sustainability, feasibility, and affordability)

5) Design concerns (fiber vs. wireless

A complete comprehensive solution could easily cost seven figures exceeding the budget and/or creditworthiness of most small business. With STARS, funding is provided through a little known federally-guaranteed loan program with small business friendly terms and conditions including no out-of-pocket expense. There are also private equity loans available using accredited investors.

No, STARS uses a totally separate network built on licensed and/or unlicensed wireless spectrum(s) and designed to avoid interference. A powerful access point management system ensures compatibility with existing networks. Additionally, incumbent or local providers provide the primary and secondary connectivity as available.

With the public-private partnership model you need a qualified private for-profit small business applicant or applicants for the federally-guaranteed loan. The equity requirement is 10%-20% depending on terms. Equity Injection is very liberal including land and borrowed funds. As the public partner your role is to cooperate, participate and support the program. The primary expectations of the P3 stakeholders are cooperation, participation, and support.

- Cooperation with the program development team in identifying the applicable use cases, strategies, and solutions.

- Participation in planning and development as requested or required by the development and provisioning teams.

- Revenue-neutral support with governance or administrative policies or procedures. Such as board or council resolutions or acceptance.

Yes. The P3 must sign all required application documents and an agreement to comply with the program strategies and solutions. You will also be required to sign a risk-management agreement and management services agreement with the program's accountability and oversight firm. All fees are revenue contingent and are covered by the revenue sharing with the program.

Royalties fees and revenue-sharing percentages are based on received income and memberships fees for a certain period. Payments are calculated on gross profits and paid according to a negotiated schedule.

STARS has a core set of applications, systems, and services that are standard in every solution. Working with the P3, stakeholders may request other systems and services. In accordance with the funding solution the final strategies and solutions will have a feasibility check, design review, and surety bond approval for the public entity if required.

The program through the P3 is responsible for all maintenance and support. There is very little end-user equipment and STARS maintains all on-site systems and services through third-party contracts with a national provider available 24/7/365.

The STARS program and its technology partners will work with the stakeholders to minimize or compensate for any cost associated with existing infrastructure. In most cases existing infrastructure use will be limited to vertical assets such as communication or water towers, abandoned or unused cabling and other resources.

STARS is responsible for all licensing and compliance issues.

The individual members are responsible for their personal devices as STARS does not provide any end-user devices except those required for standardization such as Fit-bits for telemedicine/telehealth.

STARS will provide some stakeholders such as IT department(s) with accounts for interfacing or testing. No other administrative level access is needed since it is a separate non-intrusive, non-integration network.

No. The STARS platform is a fully managed network. If you have trouble with any of the applications, systems or services you can contact our helpdesk.

No. However, with emerging technologies such as cloud-based solutions which can greatly reduce costs over traditional services you might want to migrate to other solutions with your providers. Our technical team will show you how you can realize those savings and benefits.

No. STARS provides its own Unified Communication platform. In fact, you can upgrade some existing systems and services using the program's Technology Migration component that pays for the upgrades from an escrow account.

Yes. However, we recommend keeping basic ISP packages and select services. If you are a stakeholder in the Technology Migration program you can transition off the other services at your own pace.

Yes. In addition to members and program participants, you can also have at-large members such as past-residents, alumni and business members. The rates are different for business members and will vary by program.

The STARS program is 100% compliant and consistent with longstanding recommendations and guidelines of the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) Broadband P3 guide (BroadbandUSA: An introduction to effective public-private partnerships for broadband investments).