Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
Community Broadband Bits Podcast
Community Broadband Bits is a weekly audio show hosted by Community Broadband Networks Initiative Director Christopher Mitchell 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. Find other podcasts from ILSR here.
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.
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.
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.
Bottlenecks in the Affordable Connectivity Program - Episode 522 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jessica Engle, Director of Community Outreach at Althea to talk about the Affordable Connectivity Program, the $14-billion fund that provides a $30 monthly service benefit ($75 on Tribal lands) to help defray the cost of Internet access to qualifying families around the country. It's a large and complicated program, and Jessica and Christopher talk about some of the bottlenecks that are causing friction both for households and for Internet Service Providers (ISPs). This includes verifying eligibility in a timely fashion, modifying administrative and accounting systems, a lack of information transparency from USAC and the FCC, and the seeming lack of mechanisms for an audit should it become necessary down the road.
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.
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.
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.
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 and Guillermo Aguilar works as a Partner at Brownstone Consultants, which is serving as a project manager for the network build. Jose and Guillermo talk with Christopher about the impetus for TeamPharr, the municipal effort which formally kicked off in 2017 with a feasibility study.
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.
Short Update - Community Broadband Bits Podcast
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.