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.

Local Solutions for Expanding Broadband Accessibility - Episode 483 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by Russ Elliot, the CEO of Siskiyou Telephone in Northern California. 

The two discuss the importance of small incumbent providers, which often get lumped in with bigger telecommunications companies that leave rural communities behind when building broadband infrastructure. Small incumbent providers are often the only ones interested in building out to rural areas.

They talk about the broadband-related challenges facing Northern California, from a massive potential investment in middle mile that may not go anywhere, to the impact of wildfires and weather on infrastructure. 

This show is 36 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.

Fort Dodge Brings FTTH to Fruition - Episode 482 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, Sean Gonsalves joins regular host Christopher Mitchell in a conversation with Michael Maloney, a public finance banker and the Managing Director at D.A. Davidson based in Iowa. Maloney has spent his career working on public financing projects to hope to spur economic development, including broadband.

The three discuss Gonsalves’ recent story on Fort Dodge and how the community’s frustrations propelled a push to build a municipal fiber-to-the-home network.

They also discuss the financial and regulatory barriers and opportunities for municipal broadband across the state and how Fort Dodge is an example of how projects of this size can still come to fruition.  

This show is 38 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 Success Story in Indianola, Iowa- Episode 481 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell travels to Des Moines, Iowa for the Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities Telecom Conference. He speaks with Kurt Ripperger, the Fiber Superintendent for the Indianola Municipal Utilities in Iowa. 

The two talk about the journey of Indianola’s citywide fiber-to-the-home municipal network. While initially the municipal utility questioned whether or not there would be sufficient demand  for such a network, today, it's hit its five-year business plan goals with a 45 percent take rate and counting. 

This show is 20 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.

Broadband and Beyond in the Bronx - Episode 480 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by Danny Peralta, the Executive Managing Director of The Point in the Bronx, New York which has. The Point has been at the forefront of revitalizing the South Bronx’s Hunts Point neighborhood working to address  environmental issues, increase access to the arts, and even expand Internet connectivity.

The two discuss The Point’s journey to tackle broadband infrastructure resiliency issues in the face of Hurricane Maria back in 2015. While the project was initially focused on small businesses, The Point has built a network that is beginning to connect residents and making efforts  to address the digital divide in the community. 

Peralta explains how The Point is part of a larger movement in the community to take back ownership of its resources and improve conditions for residents, making it better for generations to come. 

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.

The Fight for Digital Inclusion and Equity in San Antonio - Episode 479 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by DeAnne Cuellar, the State Program Director for Older Adult Technology Services (OATS). They explore the history of the digital divide in San Antonio and Cuellar's role in making the city one of the nation’s leaders in digital inclusion efforts. 

The two also discuss the recent announcement of a nonprofit that emerged out of a collaboration with public, private, and community stakeholders, SA Digital Connects, whose mission is to connect every household in Bexar County where San Antonio is located. SA Digital Connect is the culmination of the work of several key community broadband advocates in San Antonio who have been devoted to digital inclusion efforts in the region for years. Mitchell and Cuellar break down the history and what's on the horizon. 

This show is 29 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

Let's Talk Fiber - Episode 478 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell talks fiber with Gary Bolton, CEO and President of the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) at the Broadband Communities Summit in Houston, TX. 

The two discuss a recent fiber optic technician training program that FBA is rolling out, not only to fill expertise gaps and the labor shortage, but also to provide individuals with an opportunity to start a career in broadband deployment. The association will be working with state broadband offices and workforce development to recruit people and shape the program to local needs. The curriculum has been approved by the Department of Labor. 

Mitchell and Bolton talk about FBA’s motto: “If it’s not fiber, it’s not broadband.” They debate whether future-proofing broadband infrastructure by installing fiber is a worthwhile investment, and compare the deployment of fast, reliable Internet access to U.S. electrification. 

This show is 29 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

Tides Are Turning With Digital Inclusion - Bonus Episode 14 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

For episode 14 of our bonus series, “Why NC Broadband Matters,” we’re joined by Amy Huffman, Policy Director at National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and Christa Vinson, Program Officer of Rural Broadband and Infrastructure at Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), to talk about the state of digital inclusion across the country. 

Vinson updates us on the recent developments with the collaboration LISC and NDIA have been working on to bring rural Digital Navigators (DNs) to 32 communities across 20 states. As the federal government begins to recognize the importance of digital inclusion and equity, DNs are helping fill a role in the community to build digital skills in the community. 

The three also discuss the $10 billion Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund that has been allocated through the American Rescue Plan Act and the newly released program guidelines. They talk about the potential to use these funds to address digital inclusion — pointing out that an eligibility condition for the projects is providing an affordable option for low income families. 

This show is 34 minutes long and can be played on this page or via iTunes or with the tool of your choice using this feed, at the Community Broadband Bits page, or at the NC Broadband Matters page. We encourage you to check out other "Why NC Broadband Matters" content at the podcast feed so you don't miss future bonus content that may not appear in the Community Broadband Bits Podcast feed.

Read the transcript here.

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

Thanks to Shane Ivers for the Music: What's The Angle? by Shane Ivers - https://www.silvermansound.com a Creative Commons Attribution (4.0) license

The Long and Winding Road for Publicly Owned Broadband in Washington State - Episode 477 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by Angela Bennink (Telecommunications Director for Kitsap Public Utility District) and Laura Loe (Executive Director of Share The Cities Community Education & Share The Cities Action Fund) from Washington state. 

The group discusses the struggles Public Utility Districts (PUDs) have experienced over the last 20 years as a result of the state’s legislative restrictions. In 2000, the state legislature passed a law restricting PUDs from offering retail telecommunications services, despite the fact that they are a natural path toward getting fiber infrastructure to all Washingtonians. 

They recount the tumultuous road to repealing the restrictions and how PUDs and other community networks are working toward providing better competition and Internet access to the region.  

This show is 42 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

The Great Debate Over Telecommunications Competition and Regulation - Episode 476 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by occasional guest host Sean Gonsalves, ILSR’s Senior  Reporter, Editor, and Researcher to take a hard look at our philosophies around competition and telecommunications regulation. 

Sean briefly recaps a recent update by ILSR Researcher and Writer Jericho Casper on preemption developments over the last year. While both Arkansas and the state of Washington regulators opened up opportunities for public entities to get into the broadband market, Ohio treaded dangerously close to squashing competition. Chris and Sean plug the recent GIS position that opened up on our team

The two get down to the nitty gritty reality of competition in telecommunications, that it tends to be more of the exception than the rule in a market that has historically dominated by monopoly power. They discuss how regulation capable of overcoming this dynamic will be the most impactful locally and not in Washington, D.C. 

This show is 52 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

 

Los Altos Hills Community Fiber: A Story of Community Solutions to Community Empowerment - Episode 475 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by Scott Vanderlip, chair of Los Altos Hills Community Fiber, to talk about how he and other Los Altos Hills residents banded together to create a subscriber-owned network.

The two discuss the challenges of building a locally-owned network from the ground up. Los Altos Hills Community Fiber began with a handful of residents who pooled together the funds to connect six homes using dark fiber; today, it includes 35 households, with plans to triple its footprint in the near future thanks to a partnership with Next Level Networks. Christopher and Scott discuss the barriers that exist in building a community-owned, but not municipally owned, network, and how with patience and persistence they’ve seen steady growth and increased interest. 

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.

Read the transcript here

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 Plan for Better Broadband in Syracuse and Pleasant Grove, Utah - Episode 474 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is joined by Mike Gailey (Mayor of Syracuse), Brody Bovero (City Manager for the City of Syracuse), and Scott Darington (City Manager for the City of Pleasant Grove) to talk about why they decided to work with UTOPIA to connect their communities in Utah. 

The group discusses the importance of setting their respective communities up with top-of-the-line broadband to help them succeed long into the future , whether that success means a spur in economic development or simply that every resident has access to education and entertainment for a higher standard of living. They talk about the demand in each of their communities for the services offered by UTOPIA, as well as their timelines to receive those services. 

This show is 26 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

 

Rethinking Rural Connectivity with Christopher Ali - Episode 473 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week, we are spotlighting episode 134 of Building Local Power, an ILSR podcast hosted by our Communication’s Manager, Jess Del Fiasco. On this episode, Jess is joined by the Community Broadband Networks Initiative’s Senior Researcher Ry Marcatillio-McCracken and Senior Reporter, Editor and Researcher Sean Gonsalves to interview Christopher Ali about his new book, Farm Fresh Broadband: The Politics of Rural Connectivity. 

Christopher Ali is an Associate Professor in the Department of Media Studies at the University of Virginia where he is currently focusing on broadband policy and deployment across the country. 

The four discuss Chistopher’s motivation for and methodology in writing the book, how better broadband access can spur economic development in rural areas, and how communities are finding solutions in situations where the federal government’s efforts to improve rural broadband infrastructure have fallen short. 

This show is 40 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

One Cooperative in Oregon Hopes Broadband Will Help Revitalize A Community's Economy - Episode 472 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week's episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, ILSR's Senior Reporter, Editor, and Researcher Sean Gonsalves, along with Senior Researcher and Multimedia Producer Maren Machles, chat with Paul Recanzone, the general manager of Beacon Broadband, about Beacon's plan to build out broadband where no one has before. 

Beacon Broadband is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Coos-Curry Electric Cooperative, which has been serving electricity to parts of Coos and Curry counties for the last 80 years. In April 2021, the cooperative broke ground on a fiber-to-the-home network that promises to serve the more than 20 percent of cooperative members who don't have broadband. 

The three discuss the impetus for the project, as well as hopes for the network's impact on the economy and community as a whole. 

This show is 30 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

The Writing Team Takes Over - Episode 471 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

On this week's episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, host Christopher Mitchell is on vacation and the writing team takes over the show to talk about what brought them to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance as well as the communities they’ve spoken to recently. 

Sean Gonsalves, ILSR’s Senior  Reporter, Editor, and Researcher, hosts the podcast and shares updates on a New Hampshire cooperative that is working its way toward connecting its 84,000 members. Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Senior Researcher shares his most recent work on the Minnesota Broadband: Land of 10,000 Connectivity Solutions Report,  which examines a variety of approaches that communities and local Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have taken to expand affordable, high-quality Internet access across Minnesota. Senior Researcher and Multimedia Producer Maren Machles explains how DigitalC, a nonprofit in Cleveland, Ohio is trying to address the digital divide in the city’s most under connected communities. 

This show is 29 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.

Read the transcript here

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.

Shifting the Mindset from Scarcity to Abundance: The Infrastructure Bill and Longterm Broadband Solutions - Episode 470 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the Community Broadband Bits podcast, Christopher Mitchell is joined by Executive Director of the ConnectMaine Authority, Peggy Schaffer to discuss strategies that might make Maine and other states successful in solving connectivity issues with the $42 billion in broadband funding the new infrastructure plan sets aside to go directly to states.

States will receive the funding directly and not through the FCC, as has worked in the past. The bill specifically says that when states award the grant money, they “may not exclude cooperatives . . . public or private utilities, public utility districts, or local governments from eligibility for such grant funds," which will allow states without restrictions on municipal networks to seriously consider investing in them. They discuss how this new structure will allow for more accountability and will prompt states to think critically about how to spend the funds. Schaffer, who helped shape the broadband piece of the infrastructure bill, talks about the conversations she’s having with communities across the state of Maine as they prepare to receive the funding, and how she is imploring them to think about future-proof solutions.

This show is 26 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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