In a release today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced it was voiding applications by two of the biggest Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) bidders from December 2020. This includes more than $885 million for Low-Earth Orbit (LEO) provider Starlink and more than $1.3 billion for LTD Broadband, Inc.
The Southwestern Waldo County Broadband Coalition (SWCBC) is close to securing a major victory for local Internet choice in the face of a well-funded opposition campaign sweeping the Pine Tree State as the Big Telecom lobby and its allies try to undermine the very idea of publicly-owned, locally-controlled broadband networks in Maine and elsewhere. The five SWCBC towns clustered about 30 miles east of Augusta are looking to create what is known as a Broadband Utility District (BUD). Four of those towns recently voted in favor of establishing a BUD. Montville will vote later this month.
Ashland, Oregon has long been a trailblazer in terms of meeting community demand for faster, more affordable broadband access. The city-owned network has also had a bumpy road—at times being branded as an example of municipal broadband failure. But the network continues to grow as it faces down an urgently-needed pivot toward a fiber-based future. Despite the current economic healthiness of the network and the clear benefits it’s brought to the community over the last twenty years, local officials are talking about divesting instead of making the financial commitment to continue the investment the city has already made.
A new report out from the Copia Institute highlights the failures of the current national broadband marketplace and the value of locally-driven connectivity solutions, while underscoring once again the potential for open access models to break entrenched monopoly power. Along the way, the report offers some useful ways of reframing our understanding of how we got to a place where Internet access is dominated by just a handful of companies across the United States.