Last week, our own Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative, was the featured guest on the Broadband.Money “Ask Me Anything” series. Christopher shares his nuanced perspective on examples of municipal networks that have struggled and those that have been wildly successful. He also delves into everything from the differences between big national Internet service providers and “small scrappy" companies; how federal investments to expand broadband infrastructure might play out in states and local communities; fiber versus wireless technology; and the emergence of open-access networks.
In early August, the city of Holland, Michigan (pop. 33,000) voted to fund the construction of a citywide, open access fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. It’s the culmination of almost a decade of consideration, education, planning, and success, and builds on decades of work by the Holland Board of Public Works (HBPW) and city officials to build and maintain resilient essential infrastructure for its citizens. It also signals the work the community has done to listen to local residents, community anchor institutions, and the business owners in pushing for an investment that will benefit every premises equally and ensure fast, affordable Internet access is universally available for decades down the road.
On the southern border of Texas in the Rio Grande Valley, Pharr, Texas is the home of the largest commercial bridge from Mexico into the U.S. Now the city is working on building an equally impressive virtual bridge to every home in Pharr with the construction of a municipal fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network. The progression has been steady despite pandemic induced setbacks, as city leaders are determined to solve the connectivity challenges in Pharr by leveraging the assets the city already owns while taking advantage of the unprecedented amount of federal funds now available to help communities expand access to broadband.
Now that Internet Service Providers have submitted (or were supposed to submit) their most recent data on exactly where they claim to offer broadband service, the FCC announced last week, starting on September 12, states, local and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities can submit bulk challenges to the data currently in the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) system. While the agency is making a gallant effort to fix its notoriously inaccurate maps, we still see a few potential holes in the fabric.