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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.
Accelerate! Program Shows Promise in Midwest Communities - Episode 495 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Bill Coleman, Founder of Community Technology Advisors in St. Paul, Minnesota. During the conversation, the two discuss the origins of the Blandin Foundation’s Accelerate! Program, how facilitating team dynamics helped to breath new life into pre-recorded webinars, and why Bill believes that approach, along with an accelerated timeline, has been critical to the program’s success. They also get into the details of how the Accelerate! Program turns community leaders into broadband experts, why the program is community driven and as localized as possible, and how we all benefit when members of the broadband community share information freely with the larger broadband ecosystem. Christopher and Bill end the show by discussing exactly what makes a strong public-private partnership.
CUDs are Connecting Rural Vermont - Episode 494 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Will Anderson, Program Coordinator at Vermont Communications Union Districts Association (VCUDA) and Evan Carlson, Board Chair at NEK Broadband (Northeast Kingdom, VT). During the conversation, the three discuss the origins and progress of Vermont’s Communications Union District (CUD) model, how the Department of Public Service has worked to support CUDs with better broadband mapping and data, and NEK Broadband’s journey from identifying a need to connecting their first customers. Christopher, Will and Evan also talk about how CUDs establish partnerships with local ISPs to keep broadband money circulating in the local economy and how CUDs are primed to take advantage of federal COVID relief money.
Waverly Muni Fiber Another Success Story for Iowa - Episode 493 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Jeff Magsamen, Telecom Director at Waverly Utilities in Waverly, Iowa. During the conversation, the two discuss Waverly’s journey building a municipal network, how triple play take rates have changed in the last few years, and the benefits of partnering with neighboring municipal networks to reduce startup costs. Christopher and Jeff also take some time to highlight Waverly’s impressive take rate in the community, and what it takes to build a network people love.
Public Open Access Spurs Competition in Washington State - Episode 492 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Joe Poire, Director of Petrichor Broadband in Whitman County, Washington. During the conversation, the two discuss the unique role of Ports in Washington State, which for years have been building robust broadband infrastructure that could be used for increasing competition or extending access into unserved areas. They talk about how the Port of Whitman has stepped up to fill the cracks of a deregulated telecom market, why Petrichor Broadband was established, and how they have used an open access dark fiber business model to bring broadband to communities across Washington State. Christopher and Joe also take time to respond to criticism of publicly owned open access networks, and discuss how Petrichor’s approach has encouraged competition in underserved communities.
Perspectives From An Established Muni Network - Episode 491 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by PJ Armstrong, Interim General Manager at Monmouth Independence Networks (MINET) operating in Oregon’s Willamette Valley. During the conversation, the two discuss how MINET came into existence over fifteen years ago, unique perspectives from an older municipal network, progress on MINET’s recent investor-backed expansion into Dallas, Oregon, and how the pandemic has affected the operations and marketing of municipal networks. Christopher and PJ also geek out about MINET’s custom-built operational support system (OSS) and the technology that powers their networks.
Geography is Everything - Episode 490 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Bob Marshall, General Manager of the Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative and the Plumas-Sierra Telecommunications Company. During the conversation, the two discuss Bob’s love for the cooperative movement, how Plumas-Sierra relies on fixed wireless, cable and fiber to service their rural terrain, and how they are using a $23 million grant from CPUC (California Public Utilities Commission) to build out broadband service in challenging areas. Christopher and Bob also talk about the recovery role broadband infrastructure will play following last summer’s Dixie Fire, and how fire-prone communities might use satellite backhauls in case of emergencies.
It’s Not a Rural Broadband Challenge, It’s a Statewide Broadband Challenge - Episode 489 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Matt Schmit, Director of the Illinois Office of Broadband and Chair of Illinois Broadband Advisory Council. During the conversation, the two discuss Illinois’ $420 million investment in broadband infrastructure as part of the Connect Illinois Broadband Grant program, the challenges in and solutions to both rural and urban settings, and how the Illinois Connected Communities program has helped at all stages of the process. Christopher and Matt also talk about state goals with the new federal money on the way, and the innovation in models, financing, and deployment we’re likely to see with the influx of spending in the near future.
Last Year and Next Year: Predictions Evaluated and Recharged - Episode 488 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
In this episode of the podcast, we're back for another staff conversation about all that 2021 had to offer and serve up some predictions for the coming year. Joining Christopher on the show are Senior Reporter and Editor Sean Gonsalves, Community Broadband Outreach Team Lead DeAnne Cuellar, Senior Researcher Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, GIS and Data Visualization Specialist Christine Parker, and Associate Broadband Researcher Emma Gautier.
A History of Form 477 and Broadband Mapping Data - Episode 487 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
On this week’s episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast, Christopher Mitchell is joined by Derek Turner, the research director for Free Press, to talk about the history of the federal government's broadband data collection and how the Form 477 came to be. They unpack how this data collection process has been historically flawed and how it has evolved over the years. While the FCC continues to make adjustments to reporting procedures for Internet Service Providers, there have always been flaws, leaving communities unconnected or unserved.
What Does All This Money Mean? - Bonus Episode 15 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
For episode 15 of our bonus series, “Why NC Broadband Matters,” Christopher Mitchell is joined by Catharine Rice (Co-founder of NC Broadband Matters and Project Manager at the Coalition for Local Internet Choice) and Doug Dawson (Owner and President of CCG Consulting) dig into what all these different pots of federal funding mean communities across the country. They talk about the communities that have already announced plans to use the funds for municipal networks. They offer advice and direct communities in the early stages of planning to resources on how to use the funds effectively.