Community Broadband Bits Podcast

Community Broadband Bits is a weekly audio show featuring interviews with people building community networks or otherwise involved with Internet policy. You can listen to episodes below or download via Apple, Google, or Spotify. Alternatively if you know what to do with it, copy the feed here.

We also produce a semi-regular video show called Connect This! that has its own site.

We also have an index of all episodes and links to transcripts. Keep up with new developments by subscribing to our one-email-per-week list sharing new stories and resources. We’d love to hear your feedback! Email us.

Training to Build the Networks We Want at Broadband Bootcamps - Episode 537 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves to talk about the most recent Tribal Broadband Bootcamp, in Gila River. Tribal attendees from across North America came together - some experienced, and others tackling structural broadband inequities in their regions for the first time - came together to meet each other, share lessons learned, and get hands-on experiences with the nuts and bolts about improving connectivity for families that have long been left behind by the private marketplace. With help from representatives from Gila River Telecommunications, attendees learned about deployment technologies, fiber splicing, security, operations, digital inclusion, and more. Christopher and Sean also chat during the show their recent participation at the the digital equity Los Angeles summit, and first urban broadband bootcamp from ILSR.

This show is 27 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Market Dynamics, Regulations, and Historic Fiber Investments in Europe - Episode 536 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Rudolf van der Berg, Partner at Stratix Consulting, a Dutch consulting firm that does work in telecommunications and has been deeply involved in the historic level of new infrastructure deployment projects in northern Europe. Rudolf breaks down what's going on today in Europe's broadband landscape, including efforts to reach the unserved, new entrants, and the actions of private equity.

Rudolf challenges the notion that overregulation stifles innovation and competition, and dispels the rhetoric (pushed by monopoly ISPs in the United States) that the European networks struggled with the onset of the pandemic because of the regulatory landscape and comparative lack of investment as compared to their ISPs' American counterparts. Christopher and Rudolf close out the show by digging into the struggle between tech companies and ISPs between which should pay for infrastructure upgrades.

This show is 41 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Predictions for 2023 - Episode 535 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the show, the staff get together to bend their collective imagination to what we expect to see as the biggest news stories of 2023. Returning to join Christopher are Sean Gonsalves, Christine Parker, Emma Gautier, and Ry Marcattilio to discuss the BEAD funding rollout, mapping, the current state of preemption laws, Starry, the FCC, and more. 

Who will be right? Wrong? We'll have to wait until December to find out!

This show is 46 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

What Can We Expect to See in 2023? - Episode 534 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by returning guest Blair Levin. Levin has served as former chief of staff to FCC Chair Reed Hundt as well as executive director of the National Broadband Plan (2009-2010). Nowadays, he's a nonresident senior fellow at Brookings, and joins Christopher to unpack all that we might expect to see at play over the coming year. The show covers a lot of ground, from the renomination of Gigi Sohn to the FCC and the issues likely brought by a complete commission, to how much impact (and where) BEAD will have, to the real benefits and obvious weak spots in the Affordable Connectivity Program, to the upcoming battle between DISH, the cable monopolies, and the fixed wireless offerings from the mobile providers, and much more.

This show is 53 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Christopher Mitchell's Ask Me Anything - Episode 533 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher Mitchell join's Drew Clark on Broadband.Money's Ask Me Anything series, and in true fashion, he never ducks the hard questions. With audience questions, Drew and Christopher cover wide ground, including why the national broadband marketplace needs publicly owned infrastructure options, the benefits of open access models, how cities can prepare for BEAD and other federal funding, and other steps communities can take to make sure that when they do work with third-party ISPs that they maintain some measure of control (like performance-based contracts).

This show is 53 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Year in Review 2022 - Episode 532 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

It's December, which means it's time to pull the staff together and get a handle on what happened in the broadband landscape in 2022. Joining Christopher is GIS and Data Visualization Specialist Christine Parker, Associate Researcher Emma Gautier, Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar, Senior Reporter and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves, and Senior Researcher and Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio.

Fitting all of those titles into one recording studio was a real project, but it led to a constructive conversation about preemption laws, the broadband nutrition label, BEAD funding and the new Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process, the supply chain, and more. There were a couple of surprises in 2022, and the staff reckons with how their predictions from last year held up in the face of things.

This show is 53 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Data-Driven Policy Solutions - Episode 531 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Senior Reporter, Editor and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves and GIS and Data Visualization Specialist Christine Parker to talk about how bad data can blind us and good data can drive positive policy solutions. First, they talk about a new guide developed by ILSR to help citizen-advocates, nonprofits, and state and local elected officials navigate navigate the FCC's frustrating new Broadband Data Collection initiative. Intended to create new national broadband maps and drive the $42 billion BEAD infrastructure dollars starting in 2023, Christopher, Christine, and Sean talk about sticking points in the process, what's important to know, and what happens if our national broadband data continues to perpetuate harmful inequities.

Then, Christine fills Sean and Christopher in on the latest news with the Affordable Connectivity Program dashboard release earlier this fall, designed to unpack and visualize what folks need to know about the $30/month service benefit in order to help the most people and plan for future policy solutions. Christine shares how it was designed and lessons learned along the way, including what happens when an non-governmental entity (in this case, USAC) is given authority to manage critical social welfare programs but not compelled to share in clear enough ways what the public needs in order to perform accountability and research on them.

This show is 33 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

A Layered Approach to Universal Access in Virginia - Episode 530 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Tamarah Holmes, Director at the Office of Broadband at Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Virginia is ahead of the game compared to a lot of the states in terms of its planning and proactive work with providers to achieve universal access in historically unserved and underserved areas. Tamarah talks with Christopher about how the state has done this, from working directly with providers on regional approaches, to layering grants to address high-cost areas, to mapmaking and database design.

This show is 28 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Crazy Talk on Fiber Deployments - Episode 529 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, ILSR Senior Reporter and Editor Sean Gonsalves joins the show for another installment of Crazy Talk. Today's topic is fiber, with the two breaking down a recent op-ed in The Hill by Technology Policy Institute President Scott Wallsten. Christopher and Sean inject a much-needed reality check, as well as some nuance, to Wallsten's performative anxiety that public broadband subsidies supporting fiber optic deployments will leave rural America behind.

They talk about the broken history of regulation and accountability that "technology neutral" arguments like Wallsten's harmfully perpetuates, when fixed wireless networks do make sense to support, and the often-underappreciated work being done by local governments across the country to maintain fiber infrastructure that they've been using to serve their communities well for decades.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Maps, Maps Everywhere - Episode 528 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Dustin Loup, Project Manager of the National Broadband Mapping Coalition, housed at the Marconi Society. Dustin joins us to talk about the new national Federal Communications Commission broadband maps, currently under construction and intended to replace the current and hopelessly broken one to prepare for tens of billion in federal broadband funding.

There will hopefully be many improvements in the new maps, the first version of which is due out this month (we're not holding our breath): more granular data, more precision, and a better picture to drive future infrastructure investment in smart, efficient ways. Christopher and Dustin talk through what they hope to see, before turning to some of the problems the see emerging. This includes the frustrating walls already placed around the (tax dollar-funded) data, almost entirely restricting access to researchers and policy makers for accountability purposes, the probability of abuse by large providers, and the troublingly large $50-million contract to ConstQuest proposed in a recent announcement by NTIA to get access to something the federal government has already paid for, to administer the $42.5 billion BEAD program.

This show is 18 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Hope and Change - Episode 527 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Harold Feld, Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge. Feld is a staple of the field, and has been a consistent voice not only for consumers but broadband advocates of all types for more than two decades. 

The show takes on a reflective nature, as they talk about theories of change in the context of doing broadband policy today. Harold shares how he thinks of the progress that gets made in the long term by aligning the corporate incentive with the public interest. He shares coming to terms with having lots of hard days, the power of fighting battles you expect to lose, and learning, getting better, and building powerful coalitions along the way. Harold and Christopher end the show by talking about some examples of the latter, including important wins like the Rural Tribal Priority Window and the expansion of community networks of all shapes and sizes.

 This show is 48 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Teaching Through Gaming in Baltimore - Episode 526 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

In this episode of the podcast, Christopher is joined by William Sullivan, a resident of the city of Baltimore who works as part of the Digital Equity Leadership Lab. He shares his work in the city in recent years in getting students engaged in building digital skills and computer literacy. By pairing gaming with learning programs, Sullivan and his colleagues not only got students interested in computer hardware, but incented them to build new digital skills that would aid them in college and on the job market later in life. It also, he shares, fostered interest in taking on additional new learning challenges, as well as building new social spaces with people they had not known before.

This show is 16 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Learning from New York City's Master Internet Plan - Episode 525 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Aaron Meyerson, former Deputy CTO for the city of New York. Christopher and Aaron dig into New York City's Internet Master Plan, which launched in the spring of 2021 and gained steam before being put on hold by the Adam's administration in January of 2022. 

Aaron shares the lessons he learned in creating a single, streamlined process for intra-agency cooperation in the name of facilitating a smooth experience for vendors and the value that unlocking city-owned assets can add to efforts like this. He also tells Chris about navigating the razors' edge of pursuing a large-scale solution, as NYC's Master Plan was intended to be, as opposed to smaller, quicker projects that could be turned around in a single election cycle and avoid the sometimes inevitable slowdown that comes with the changing of the guard. 

Finally, Christopher and Aaron talk about NYC's new plan for connectivity in public housing developments, and their concerns about longevity and where the money's going. 

This show is 32 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

 

Financing Mechanisms and Governance Models - Episode 524 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Ben Matranga, co-founder and managing partner of Connectivity Capital, and Jane Coffin, chief community officer at Connect Humanity.

The conversation this week takes on a bit of international flavor as the three of them discuss a recent report “Financing Mechanisms for Locally Owned Internet Infrastructure,” authored collaboratively by Connectivity Capital, Connect Humanity, The Internet Society, and the Association for Progressive Communications.

The report analyzes the operating models and financing mechanisms that can support community connectivity providers (CCPs) and how various business models across the globe are evolving. They delve into the importance of demystifying the financial models in the construction of community networks beyond grant funding and explore the “broad tent” of community connectivity partners that include municipal, non-profit as well as private sector actors.

In the last half of the program, the conversation turns to the recommendations that come out of that report.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

Monopoly Pricing Disparities in LA County - Episode 523 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Shayna Englin, Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation (CCF) to talk about a new report by CCF and its partners that reveals the systematic broadband cost inequities perpetuated in LA County by Charter Spectrum, the region's monopoly provider. "Sounding the Alarm," a pricing and policy impact study, shows not only that economically vulnerable households in Charter Spectrum territory pay more for slower service than those in wealthy neighborhoods, but that they are also saddled with worse contracts and regularly see fewer advertisements for the monopoly provider's lowest cost plans.

The result, Shayna shares, is that the higher poverty neighborhoods (often predominantly populated by households of color) often pay from $10 to $40/month more than low-poverty (often predominantly populated by white households) for the exact same service. Christopher and Shayne talk through the implications of these findings, and the report's call for policy changes to address Charter Spectrum's practices. They end the show by talking through some of the upcoming broadband infrastructure rules at the state level aimed at improving access and competition.

This show is 35 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or the tool of your choice using this feed. You can listen to the interview on this page or visit the Community Broadband Bits page.

Transcript coming soon. 

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index.

Subscribe to the Building Local Power podcast, also from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, on iTunes or Stitcher to catch more great conversations about local communities, the concentration of corporate power, and how everyday people are taking control.

Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.

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