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.

A Tribal Wireless Network in Northern California - Episode 521 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Matthew Douglas, Broadband Manager at the Hoopa Valley Public Utility District. At the start of the pandemic, HVPUD launched a wireless network initiative using $2 million in CARES Act funds to benefit Tribal members who had poor or no connectivity options. Matthew shared the lessons they learned during the process (including at one of the first Tribal Wireless Bootcamps), including navigating old-growth forest, navigating equipment and signal challenges in a particularly grueling topography, working with vendors with things don't go as planned, and managing sector costs. Recently, the effort won an NTIA grant to embark on a new fiber work and a wireless backhaul build to bring in significant new capacity to increase speeds and resiliency in the region.

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 Foundation for the Future of Digital Equity Work - Episode 520 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Pamela Rosales (Training and Community Engagement Manager, National Digital Inclusion Alliance) and Davida Delmar (Digital Inclusion Manager, Amerind). Pamela and Davida talk about their digital inclusion work and how it differs across Tribal communities as compared to rural and urban areas. They also catch Christopher up on what's going on in cities and nationwide in the digital equity space, from how to develop outreach channels during an ongoing pandemic, 2022's Digital Inclusion Week, NDIA's ongoing Digital Navigator Program that is beginning to ramp up, what we can expect to see down the road in terms of needs and resources, and more.

This show is 31 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.

Cities Doing Work - Episode 519 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by ILSR colleagues Sean Gonsalves (Senior Editor and Communications Team Lead) and DeAnne Cuellar (Outreach Team Lead) for a roundup of recent news. They talk about the release of our new tracking and advocacy tool, the Affordable Connectivity Program dashboard, the pace and speed of the municipal broadband build in Pharr, Texas, pilot program aimed at low-income households in Syracuse, New York, Boulder, Colorado's broadband plan, and Erie County, New York's revived connectivity plan.

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.

Building at the Speed of Light in Pharr, Texas - Episode 518 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by two representatives from Pharr, Texas (pop. 79,000), which has embarked on a citywide fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network build that is seeing strong local support and fast progress in recent months. Jose Pena is the IT Director for the city, and Guillermo Aguilar works as a Partner at Brownstone Consultants, which is serving as a project manager for the network build. Jose and Guillerma talk with Christopher about the impetus for TeamPharr, the municipal effort which formally kicked off in 2017 with a feasibility study.

Jose and Guillermo share how the city moved to a fixed wireless pilot project on the southern part of town a few years ago before extending the network to a collection of city parks and then making the commitment to a full citywide buildout in 2020. They detail their early work in the state, which places some barriers in front of communities looking to take their telecommunications future into their own hands, and the help they got from Mont Belvieu (which also runs its own network). Jose and Guillermo share the phenominally fast progress the team has made, from finishing the design phase in September of last year, to connecting the first household in January 2022, to passing 70 percent of premisestoday.They also talk about their work to offer subscribers low pricing tiers ($25 and $50/month for symmetrical 500 Mbps and gigabit service, respectively) and their efforts to help households sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Check out the videos at the bottom of this story for more about why Pharr undertook the project and the progress the city has made so far.

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.

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 Straight Talk About Rural Fiber Deployments - Episode 517 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Joseph Franell, President of Blue Mountain Networks (which serves more than 30 rural communities west of Portland) in Oregon. Joe joined the team at Ashland Fiber Network (AFN) before moving on to do work in rural parts of the state. During the conversation, Christopher and Joe talk about building fiber in some of the least-dense parts of the state. They discuss the importance of creativity and a willingness to pursue a variety of partnership models, the critical role that local broadband champions play in convincing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to come to rural areas, and how dramatically different a provider looks when it's driven by principles and a commitment to the community that goes beyond a lightning-fast return-on-investment.

They dive into the specter of private equity, which has shown increasing interest in broadband infrastructure and the grassroots work done by broadband action teams over the last couple of years.

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.

Short Update - Community Broadband Bits Podcast

A quick update from Christopher on upcoming episodes of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. 

This show is 2 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.

Mapping, BEAD, and the Future of Broadband - Episode 516 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jon Chambers, industry veteran and partner at Conexon. The two begin by talking about the work electric cooperatives are doing in rural areas to convert subscribers from DSL connections reluctantly maintained by monopoly providers to member-owned fiber connections.

Then, they address what Jon calls the next frontier in broadband policy and funding with BEAD, initiated by the inherent shortcomings of the new Broadband Data Collection Fabric and which underscore the FCC's continued inability to act decisively to figure out where and which types of connections are available at the address level. This includes the fraught and complicated consequences when the federal government sets too low a defintion of broadband, the challenge process, the delay in funding until a complete list of Broadband Serviceable Locations is complete, the lack of transparency in the new data sets, and more.

This show is 47 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 Birth of the Texas State Broadband Development Office - Episode 515 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Greg Conte, Director of the Texas Broadband Development Office, and ILSR Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar. The state of Texas finds itself in a common position these days: last year it created a small office that, today, is suddenly faced with dispersing more than a billion dollars in new infrastructure funding through the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.

Greg talks about the challenges of staffing up and addressing the lack of data about where broadband is and isn't as a starting point for future work. He shares the process of developing a minimum viable product for mapping as well as the additional goal of integrating digital equity goals and socioeconomic data into a mapping effort. 

Christopher, Greg, and DeAnne then dig into the implications of the new BEAD rules recently clarified by the NTIA, and how to square a mandate not to disciminate against community solutions with a Texas state law which places barriers in front of municipalities. He shares how HB5, passed by the Texas legislature last year, lets nonprofit and for-profit entities apply for funding, but privileges for-profit entities what applications are submitted for the same. The group talks about the balancing act of operating an unequal grant-making marketplace with a charge to efficiently and effectively address the digital divide with historic federal broadband funding.

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.

Campaigns to Keep Monopolies We Don't Love - Episode 514 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Sean Gonsalves, Senior Reporter and Editor at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. During the conversation, they talk about the value and concrete results of going small and stacking up targeted wins as a path for cities facing less of an appetite for big, bold projects, before digging into recent astroturf campaigns by monopoly Internet Service Providers (ISPs).

Led by the Alliance for Quality Broadband (AQB) (really a lobbying group including providers like Charter Spectrum and others), municipal broadband efforts have seen recent setbacks in places like Southport, Maine. It's a campaign being waged both in print flyers and online facebook ads, with AQB driving misinformation efforts and attempting to scare citizens away from upcoming votes on projects to improve local connectivity after years of underinvestment by incumbents (like Charter Spectrum). 

Christopher and Sean fact check the Alliance for Quality Broadband's bogus claims about the failure of muncipal efforts across the country in places like Pennsylvania, Minnesota, California, Florida, and Vermont, and unpack the deep-seated fear of competition driving such efforts.

Listen to Christopher's in-depth interview with Harold Depriest about Chattanooga, referenced in the episode.

Watch the most recent episode of the Connect This! Show to see Christopher and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) talk with Peggy Schaffer (Director, ConnectME), Andrew Butcher (President, Maine Connectivity Authority), and Christa Thorpe (Community Development Officer, Island Institute) about anti-municipal broadband efforts in Maine.

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.

The New FCC Broadband Fabric - Episode 513 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Mike Conlow, Director of Network Strategy at Cloudflare, a network security and Internet performance company. Christopher and Mike dive into the upcoming Broadband Serviceable Locations Fabric which will serve as the basis for the new nationwide maps from the Federal Communications Commission.

They talk about what's going to be better as compared to the old Form 477 data collection process and the importance of making sure new maps faithfully represent the problem of the digital divide in the United States. They also dig into the policy and deployment implications when federal data bought with public dollars is not openly shared in forms that invite corroboration. 

Sign up for Mike's newsletter here.

This show is 34 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.

Should the BEAD Program Be As Onerous As It Seems? - Episode 512 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week’s podcast comes from the Fiber Connect 2022 conference held in Nashville, Tennessee last month where Christopher caught up with Heather Mills, Vice President for Grants and Funding Strategies at CTC Technology & Energy.

During the conversation, Heather challenges Christopher’s assessment of the BEAD program in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and what he calls the program’s “complex and onerous” requirements. Heather kicks things off by telling Christopher to “get over it” because ultimately the program uses tax dollars, emphasizing how important it is that those funds are not misspent.

Christopher and Heather then dive into the various criticisms that have been lodged since the BEAD NOFO was released, including the letter of credit requirement, compliance with the Davis-Bacon Act, environmental assessments and the meaning of “climate resiliency,” and whether the various regulatory hoops program participants have to navigate will ultimately crowd-out smaller and mid-sized ISPs.

This show is 34 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.

Frameworks for the Future in Newark - Episode 511 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Seth Wainer, the former CIO of the city of Newark, New Jersey. During the conversation, Seth shares his time with the city from 2013-2018. He talks about the progress the city made in improving local connectivity across different arenas, from cataloging existing assets, to pursuing both wired and wireless self-funded projects (to more than 100 buildings today), to putting in vendor-agnostic fiber in downtown development, to coordinating utility projects to lower costs.

Christopher and Seth end the conversation by talking about the importance and power of reframing the question of broadband access, including what happens when we think of telecommunications infrastructure as a sustainable public service rather than a luxury good.

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.

Empowering Municipalities in New York - Episode 510 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast Christopher is joined by Scott Rasmussen, Acting Director of the New York State ConnectALL Office. During the show, the two dive into how New York will spend its broadband funds to support municipal networks and partnerships, the challenges of public-public partnerships between local governments working together on deployments, and what we can expect success to look like in the near future.

This show is 25  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.

Underbuilding, States BEAD Posturing, and Hot Topics in Community Networks - Episode 509 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by senior staff on the broadband initiative to dig into recent topics, including Senior Reporter, Editor and Communications Team Lead Sean Gonsalves, Community Broadband Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar, and Senior Researcher and Research Team Lead Ry Marcattilio-McCracken.

The group talks about the value of overlapping networks and the co-option of the word "overbuilding" by monopoly lobbyists, the recent New York State funding program kickstarting municipal broadband efforts in a handful of communities, how states are responding (or not) to the NTIA process to get hundreds of millions in federal broadband infrastructure funding, and a new tool we built to help keep tabs on funds released from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

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.

How Consulting Firms Can Help Communities Plan, Build, and Finance Local Broadband Networks - Episode 508 Community Broadband Bits Podcast

This week on the podcast Christopher is joined by Ken Demlow, Planning Services Group Manager with HR Green, a leading employee-owned civil engineering and technical management firm with offices in nine states.

The pair dive into the world of consulting firms and how they help cities and towns across the United States figure out how to build and design local infrastructure, which includes the building of local broadband networks.

Ken, a nationally recognized expert on fiber deployment, walks through the process of how HR Green is first engaged by a community, covering everything from envisioning the scope of work and assessing existing community assets to the high-level design and financing of local broadband network construction.

Christopher probes Ken on the ins-and-outs of how communities can prepare to upgrade its telecommunication infrastructure, how local leaders can think about financing construction, as well as dealing with the challenges of rights-of-way and pole attachments – one of the most difficult aspects of building broadband networks. 

Demlow goes on to share his experience working with communities across the country and how local officials looking to close the digital divide in their towns can think about how to get the ball rolling.

This show is a little over 19 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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