Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
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 Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed.
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Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Shayna Englin (00:07):
In the digital equity space, we tend to sort of separate our three legs of the stool as if they were distinct, and we contemplate them as as totally distinct. This is a situation where I think it makes very clear why that is a, a misguided way to go.
Christopher Mitchell (00:24):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota, where it is amazing <laugh>. This is the weather to Die for the, the Knights in the fifties, the days in the sixties and seventies and blue skies, and oh, it's wonderful Shayna. How are things in California?
Shayna Englin (00:48):
Things are also brilliant and beautiful. I'm in the mountains outside of Los Angeles, California, and it is fifties at night and seventies during the day, and sunny and the leaves are changing and it is perfect.
Christopher Mitchell (01:00):
Excellent. And that's, that's Shayna Englin, the director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation. Welcome.
Shayna Englin (01:09):
Thank you. Good to see you.
Christopher Mitchell (01:10):
It's it's great to have you back. I feel like, you know, ordinarily I don't try to bring someone back within 20 episodes or so of them being on the last one, but you have your finger on the pulse of so much that's happening and we have such an exciting story to talk about today that I broke a rule I never made. So here we go. <laugh>
Shayna Englin (01:28):
Rules you never made are the best ones to break, I think. Right?
Christopher Mitchell (01:31):
<laugh>. So for people who are turning in for the first time, welcome. And and Shayna is someone who has a long history of telecommunications, but has recently reentered and is focused on Los Angeles County, although also kind of California and also kind of the world <laugh>,
Shayna Englin (01:49):
<laugh>, let's just, in the country at least, <laugh>.
Christopher Mitchell (01:52):
Sure, yeah. Definitely more a focus on the country than say bullies, but Correct.
Shayna Englin (01:56):
But yes, sadly to my detriment, I feel like now that you mention it, <laugh> no doubt I should focus on Belize a little bit,
Christopher Mitchell (02:02):
<laugh>, and we're gonna talk about several different things that are going on in the county of Los Angeles and the state of California. But let's start off with this amazing story that, that just broke something that you've been working on for quite some time and, and convince the LA times to write about you surveyed what people are really paying and what's being marketed to them in terms of broadband prices, right? Which is something we don't have any data on, which still blows my mind in the year 2022. But you collected data. What did you find? What's interesting?
Shayna Englin (02:33):
Well, so just to, to clarify what's what released today? So it is part one of a two-part project. part one is just taking a look at what are ISPs in LA County advertising, what are the offers they're advertising in terms of speed, price, and the terms and conditions for those in various diverse neighborhoods all across the county. and then part two,
Christopher Mitchell (02:56):
Well hold on before part two. Let's just be very clear because part one is enormous. We've, we, it's enormous. We've talked about this in the last show, 10 million people, more than 90 cities, lots of big rural areas. Los Angeles County is this massive thing that that is quite varied. It's not just what you see in tv, like the Hollywood Hills signs and a bunch of people living underneath them.
Shayna Englin (03:17):
<laugh> correct <laugh>,
Christopher Mitchell (03:20):
I may not, you know, I may not be on my top form today. We talked about this in the pre-show, <laugh>
Shayna Englin (03:24):
All good. yeah, it's 88 cities, 10 million people bigger than, I'm gonna forget the number. but bigger than most states in terms of budget and number of people, it's massive. and so when you think about LA County, yeah, like, think about it like a state or even a country <laugh>. so yeah, that's the first part. One is a, is a big project,
Christopher Mitchell (03:44):
And it, so the, the point is part one, lots of variety. That's potential. So yes, part two.
Shayna Englin (03:49):
Part two today is the survey of what people are paying. so we did a survey land, again, led by our community partners. and that was interesting enough because to your point, there is no data on pricing and service levels. which also blows my mind especially in the context of we're trying to, to like do all of this mapping and spend all this public money to improve access, but how do we do that if we don't actually have the data that goes beyond just where the companies say they're putting their wires. But that's a whole different rant. but so the second piece is a survey of people all across the state of California asking, you know, do you have internet at home? If you do, what do you pay for it? Who do you pay for it? And what service level are you paying for? and at this point we are at I think just under 2200 responses from around the state. I think we'll close it when we get to 2,500 and we are, we'll be partnering with an academic institution, a researcher to analyze that and release that. And I would guess probably early in the new year is when that'll come out.
Christopher Mitchell (04:52):
And when you said you are partnered with your community partners, I, I feel like that's worth mentioning because that's why I l LSR doesn't do this <laugh> kinda thing because if we just did a survey, we would probably have a bunch of people I think 95, 90 9% of whom would not respond in any way. They would be like, what is this trash? I'm not interested. but your community partners did go out and get responses.
Shayna Englin (05:16):
Indeed it is the very best part of my job and I feel incredibly lucky. I work with, just in LA County alone more than 40 community-based organizations who, you know, their, their day job as it were, their core mission is advancing education and equity building parents and student skills, community health centers and clinic directors. we have climate justice organizations, you know, whole range of organizations that actually do work on the ground and so have both the relationships and the trust of of the communities that they serve. and so they're the ones who really drove this this survey. And then it kind of got enough interest. We really did start with just LA County and through some of the work that our partners do around the state, and also just kind of word getting around and they're being so much hunger for this data organizations around the state, including, you know, like the county supervisor in Santa Clara County, Cindy Chavez, who's amazing. she's been including the survey link in her weekly constituent newsletter those kinds of things. so that's how it kind of got, we initially were hoping for 500, and then we, we set our aspirations higher to a thousand responses. And then it's just kind of taken on the life of its own.
Christopher Mitchell (06:30):
Excellent. I can imagine there's more than one listener who's sitting there thinking, Chris, community partners, whatever. What did the surveys say? What did you find out that is interesting? Shayna?
Shayna Englin (06:40):
so in part one what we found out is that for our, you know, what is effectively a Monopoly provider which in a charter spectrum in LA County there is a very clear and very consistent pattern of reserving their best offers, their highest speed at their best prices, at their best terms and conditions for the widest, wealthiest communities and leaving scraps for everybody else. When I say that, I'm, I, it is stark. So just some case studies that are in the report, we looked at an address in, in Watts, which is a course a predominantly and historically black community tends to have higher poverty neighborhoods. Their charter spectrum is advertising. Its internet Ultra, which is, its 500 megabits. That's the only service that they offer at every single address. in Watts, they are advertising it for $70 a month.
That is a price guarantee not to go up for just one year. And then it goes up to 95 after that, a few miles away in Manhattan Beach, which has a poverty rate of about 2%, very, very white. there that same service is available for $30 a month, and that is guaranteed not to go up for two years. Wow. And that is a pattern that pay that plays out region to region all across, all across the county. And I think one of the really eye-opening and disting examples that we looked at is we started to kind of group these by region. And so we looked at historically black neighborhoods in la you know, some that you've probably heard of if you watch movies and some that you probably haven't. but these are very, actually diverse in terms of income levels, et cetera. But, but historically black and remain predominantly black communities are getting that kind of $70, getting those higher prices at worst terms of conditions. And then you go within the same city that's five miles away as you drive, it's like two miles away as the crow flies to Mar Vista, which again is almost entirely white. And they have, their prices are the significantly lower ones.
Christopher Mitchell (08:53):
Were you able to control for competition, which is, you know, are those areas where historically Verizon Fios had built out
Shayna Englin (09:00):
Yes and no. So by control for competition that would, that assumes that we found enough, we were able to find enough addresses that had competition Sure. to, to do that, which is not accurate. <laugh>. That's
Christopher Mitchell (09:14):
Kidding. It's, it's like, what, what, what to what authority would you find out if there was competition or not? Right? Like it certainly would be very
Shayna Englin (09:20):
Difficult. Well, we tried, so here, here's, here's how we tried to address the competition is, so we set, we went to the California Public Utilities Commission, their broadband maps and looked at what do the ISPs say they do in LA County. And so Charter Spectrum says that they serve 97, it's like 96.7% of households in LA County. The next biggest is Frontier. And that's at just over 20%. Right?
Christopher Mitchell (09:51):
Cause Frontier bought the old Verizon plant.
Shayna Englin (09:54):
Yep. And then after that it's at and t at 15%, and then after that, wow. It's Coxs at 1.3% and they could Wow. They serve like they serve Rancho Palos verus in like a little bit of Torrance. But, you know, that
Christopher Mitchell (10:08):
Is not what I would
Shayna Englin (10:09):
Expected. Yeah. It's it's charter. I mean, we have an effective monopoly in, in LA County, and it is charter Spectrum. So but that said, we did, at every one of the addresses that we looked at, we did go shopping for service at all three of those providers and documented where there was some competition. And then also in each of these case studies, the P U C also has a it's a California broadband interactive map where you can put in an address and see at the census block level what the ISPs say they provide mm-hmm. <affirmative> at that census block. And so looked there too to, to document, you know, in this census block at and t and Charter and Frontier or whatever, this is what they say they, they make available to try and get at that competition question.
Christopher Mitchell (10:59):
That is remarkable. presumably there are some high income black neighborhoods, and I, I'm always curious if there's any interesting results in, in those areas.
Shayna Englin (11:08):
Yes. And that is, thank you for bringing me back to that, cuz that was one of the things, and we were looking at the historically black neighborhoods that was just kind of jaw dropping. is that kind of within that cluster of historically black neighborhoods? There are some that are, if you took race out of the demographic information that you were looking at, it's single family homes, similar income levels, et cetera. The only difference in the neighborhoods is that one is in the historically black community and one is very white. and the historically black community that kind of higher income, historically black community had the same high pricing as the low income communities around it.
Christopher Mitchell (11:47):
And that's the sort of thing, you know, we've certainly seen with bank studies and things like that where the, the higher income families will be getting worse interest rates, they'll be getting worse deals. Mm-hmm. And other kinds of things. There's just that reservoir of history where I think maybe it's, you know, people somewhat at charter spectrum's deciding where to deploy and, and what plans to offer and things like that. And, and a lot of times they're not as data driven as you might think. I think there's still those biases.
Shayna Englin (12:14):
Well, and this is the thing that I, I feel like, and I, I feel like you and I have had this conversation before, but one of the rants that I regularly go on is that kind of in the digital equity space, we tend to sort of separate our three legs of the stool as if they were distinct, right? We think about devices and literacy, we think, and like adoption, that whole set of issues. And then we think about access and we contemplate them as as totally distinct. This is a situation where I think it makes very clear why that is a, a misguided way to go. because I think part what we're seeing is that you see these kind of higher prices in these historically redlined and I think legitimately digitally redlined communities where there has not been the investment in infrastructure, there has not been the investment in certainly not fiber but even just sort of upgraded on cable.
There have not been, there have not been infrastructure investments in these communities. And so then, you know, certainly one explanation for the patterns that we're seeing, and I really hope we do hear an explanation from Charter Spectrum at some point. But one potential explanation is certainly that it's just bias, right? That it's like not data driven, that it really is just sort of, it's based on bias on these neighborhoods. Another one, which is actually one that we've heard from a few of the network engineers that we work with that we ran this past, and they said, look, the issue is that the infrastructure in these historically redlined communities cannot support, it is not scalable to support those higher service levels to everyone in that community. So what they're doing is they're using pricing in order to kind of really price out and disincentivize people in those communities from signing up for those higher service tiers because the infrastructure isn't there to support it. And so then you have this kind of confluence of infrastructure and access and affordability and adoption that all kind of come together in an unholy alliance <laugh> to keep these communities, you know, way disproportionately disconnected.
Christopher Mitchell (14:23):
Yes. That's all, it's all believable and I'm sure it's some of this, some of that as opposed to just being one explanation. Yeah. the something we should say is we are recording this a little bit in advance. And so if in fact, charter Spectrum has explanations that are in the newspaper articles that have come out about this, then you and I are currently unaware of them <laugh>. So we're not trying to, we're not trying to ignore them.
Shayna Englin (14:47):
I, I would love an explanation in no small part because you know, I, my mission is solving this problem, and yes, with an explanation we can have a better sense of how to, how to solve it.
Christopher Mitchell (15:02):
Well, I think that leads us to our, our second focus, which is that, you know, without necessarily saying that Charter is entirely to blame there are significant challenges in Los Angeles County and the Board of Supervisors seems to be stepping up time and again and listening to a invigorated group of stakeholders that are working with them on this issue. So what is the latest in terms of what the board is doing?
Shayna Englin (15:28):
See a, as you might remember, last October, and I think we did talk about this on my last appearance in this space, fewer than 20 podcasts ago, <laugh> <laugh> the the board passed unanimously kind of set of actions that were focused on how to leverage existing assets and 56 million in ARPA money to very quickly expand fast and affordable, if not free access to the people who most need it in LA County. and they come two pieces that really moved forward on that, whereas one is a community broadband network and then two is a study, a feasibility study, and kind of an action plan for a fiber countywide fiber network and what that would look like. said that was about a year ago now. Since then, there's been, by government standards, a very fast <laugh> ton of very fast motion on it leading up to two weeks ago from when we're recording this now a another set of two unanimous decisions from the board.
One that authorized the very sexually named internal services division <laugh> to move forward with master service agreements. so that that is to begin the contracting process for actually building out the community broadband network. and the second was creating a first ever director of digital equity, again, to sit in that internal services department and start to put together the a coordinating committee that is kind of cross jurisdictional. So again, it sounds like, I think for, for folks sitting in some counties, and maybe for you, Chris, where you're sitting, this sounds like probably unnecessary bureaucracy, but if you, again, think about LA County as a state or as a country, and then think that there is actually no one place within the county that has awareness, let alone any sort of like authority or co coordinating capacity across all of those jurisdictions and all of those agencies, it becomes clear that what a problem <laugh> that might look like. Yes. and so the, the county created, the board created this directive of digital equity to be that sort of coordinating focus.
Christopher Mitchell (17:45):
Yeah. And that's terrific because I feel like I, again, in such a bureaucratic environment across the various cities, the county, all the different agencies people have their historic silos that they are in charge of, and it's very easy to forget or to put off to the side the need to work on digital equity unless you have someone reminding them and showing up in meetings and, and basically making sure it doesn't fall. People don't fall into old habits of ignoring it because that's what happens and that is what is still happening in most cities in the United States, I would say <laugh>.
Shayna Englin (18:20):
Well, and I think there's the ignoring it, and then I think there's also just the the sort of capacity, right? So in you have, you kind of think about the 88 cities in LA County, and you have Yes, the city of la which is obviously like massive and well-resourced and has a ton of people working at it. but then you have cities like Kohe, which is in the southeast la and I think there are nine people who work in the city of Kue <laugh>. it's also one of the least connected cities in the county. And in kind of one of those zones that has been digitally redlined. The city of Canne is not going to have the capacity. They're trying to keep the water working <laugh> and the street lights moving and kind of all of that. There's no capacity. And so kind of having an, an entity at the county level that can help coordinate ad capacity, say, okay, Khe Maywood, which is another small city, right? There are Bell Gardens and have all those solid cities. How can we support you in working together and not having to individually find the capacity to do it? But I, I think that's gonna be a game changer.
Christopher Mitchell (19:24):
Yes. I can imagine. Among other things, just being able to say, this city is using these resources here, you could copy them that that
Shayna Englin (19:33):
Could be helpful. You could copy them here, why don't we all together go for this pot of money mm-hmm. <affirmative> for the region instead of everybody competing for less of it or whatever. I
Christopher Mitchell (19:44):
Think that's how Smart Transit really developed too. I mean, there's a real precedent for that in the LA region as well as many others of working together across transit agencies, which is, you know, makes sense. Absolutely. The community network that is that where it's targeted at a number of areas that have historically been left behind? I mean, it's largely like apartment buildings and things like that, areas that were, that were specifically targeted to have an improved investment in the city did an RFP process.
Shayna Englin (20:11):
Yeah. So at the very beginning of the process, actually leading up to that October vote, the county did an assessment and created them, I, I'm gonna misname them, but effect essentially like targets end. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, so looked across the, across the county and said, where are the kind of hotspots of very low adoption, lower than the county average or, or worse? and then kind of where are those located? What are the things that make them similar? <laugh>, right. And it turns out, again, this will not shock probably anybody who's listening to this, but things that make them similar, those hotspots also tend to be hotspots for, you know, economic development challenges. And they tend to be fairly low income and they tend to be immigrate immigrant communities. and they tend to be communities of color. and then of course the kind of big swath of rural up in the North county, which has no access to anything. So it is an adoption problem,
Christopher Mitchell (21:09):
Right. The the city. So these areas, both urban and rural, they were there was an RFP where different entities could propose solutions and then the county would own it. And those solutions, that's the intention. I'm sure there's always respondents who were like, or I could own it and we would all be happier <laugh>,
Shayna Englin (21:28):
<laugh>. I mean, that is an ongoing fight. <laugh>, the yeah, I mean, I think the way that the county approached was really interesting, which was what they said was what count, what can we do with existing county assets? So obviously in a county this big, there are you know, myriad county buildings and power poles and, and all kinds of things. And then also within the city, so the county has an M O U with the city of la similarly, like what are the city assets that you could put say fixed wireless facilities on in these high communities that, that quickly, you could do that quickly to get up to speed quickly with a, with public assets. And so, yeah, they issued an, it was called an R F S Q request for statement of qualifications. I think it got 13 back. Mm-hmm. <affirmative> qualified nine of them. and now we're moving forward in that contracting process.
Christopher Mitchell (22:24):
Excellent. So that's the, that's will be the community network when we talk about that. Yes. Because I feel like some people might have been like, what? They're building a community network Yes. But in a different fashion than, than it is not Chattanooga. It's a, it's a different approach. No. although it is studying an approach that where the city would own fiber and fiber true residents potentially, or different models. Yep. so a lot is happening in Los Angeles County and, and still more is happening at the C P U C, where you've had to be really focused as well, <laugh>, because it turns out a lot of decisions get made there that will make your life easier or harder in trying to do this work. One of the things that that we were talking about and, and that we could talk about a lot of things, but I think given our time, we'll have to keep it short. maybe what's, what's one proceeding that you're excited to see?
Shayna Englin (23:14):
I think the one that has been most interesting here to four, although there are a few that are gonna be very interesting moving forward is around the rules around, it's called the federal funding account, which is the account created for 2 billion in last mile funding that the state allocated out of federal funding. The rules had to follow be within the treasury rules, the final rule, which is a horribly named thing for
Christopher Mitchell (23:43):
The Capital Projects Fund. Yeah.
Shayna Englin (23:45):
I do have to say no, actually no different, no, this is a different pot of money than the Capital Project fund. I
Christopher Mitchell (23:52):
Forgot. Oh, ok. It was the part of that makes it the slur fur <laugh>, the state and local fiscal recovery fund.
Shayna Englin (24:02):
Yes. And can we just say slur fur a few more times? <laugh> <laugh>.
Christopher Mitchell (24:06):
I can, I've been known to do that.
Shayna Englin (24:08):
I, I need that in my life. Some slur furs.
Christopher Mitchell (24:10):
I, I, I have to say, like I, I, I am consumed with doubt whenever I see f ffa, if it is what I remember it to be not just because of future Farmers for America, but also just because I'm like, wait, is this really just the broadband pot of money? Or is it something else? But
Shayna Englin (24:23):
Yes. Well, this, this is really, it is 2 billion that California has allocated for last mile broadband mm-hmm. <affirmative>. and there has been obviously this kind of rolling, I, I don't wanna call it a fight, let's call it a discussion. There's been a rolling discussion with the C P U C through that proceeding on you know, kind of how far to the edges of the final rule California's gonna go in terms of, you know, referencing fiber, referencing public projects, all of it requiring affordability, those kinds of things. And so that rule,
Christopher Mitchell (24:58):
I do wanna just remind people, because we've talked about so many different things in recent months. The SLFRF rules specifically, like the way that worked was that a bunch of money went out to counties and cities themselves, like I think Los Angeles County got like 2 billion, but states also got money, and they are able to distribute that, and that's where this money comes from. California could have chosen to spend it on a variety of things, but they chose to dedicate it to broadband. And so that I think is worth highlighting, and that's why I wanted to just
Shayna Englin (25:27):
Come back for a second. No, that's, that's right. It was two part of a package Senate Bill 1 56 for my legislative nerds out there. that did, it did three things. It created, it set aside 3.25 billion for a statewide open access middle mile network, 2 billion for a last mile you know, theoretically to connect to the, to the Middle Mile, but not necessarily and then 750 million in a loan loss reserve fund to allow specifically local agencies to bond for, for money that if they didn't qualify for these other grant programs,
Christopher Mitchell (26:02):
Which is super cool. But beyond the scope of our show today, <laugh>.
Shayna Englin (26:05):
Correct. so this 2 billion in this last mile is in this federal funding account. The rules have been moving and kind of in the process of that we've been building capacity at the local level in LA County and beyond to engage in this conversation. And that sounds like something very simple, but for anybody who's worked with a utilities commission, it isn't <laugh>. you have to, you gonna be an official, there's all these forms you have to file them, and a motion to become a party with a certificate of service, like everything down to the font size has to be exactly right within this very complicated code section, et cetera. And then once you are a party to file comments you know, it's not a comment form, it's again, like a legal document that has
Christopher Mitchell (26:52):
To, I feel like we got rejected more times than we've got accepted. I mean, we just have to keep going back and fixing these things. Yeah.
Shayna Englin (26:57):
I mean, happily, they, like, when you get rejected, they send it back and they say you have to fix these things. I think I've, I probably filed, I don't know, at least a dozen or more in the last year. and I think I had one that was accepted without modification, and I think they were just being nice. I think I, when I look back, I got the font wrong, still <laugh>, but they kind of threw that preceding, like we have done a significant amount of organizing and technical support to engage community groups and municipalities around the state to go through that onerous process so that voice could be heard and could be part of those proceedings. and I think as a result, you ended up with a decision that really does focus on the public good and on closing this gap, rather than just funneling more money. Like other states I've done to, you know, charter and Comcast, there's, there's a fierce telecom headline a couple weeks ago that I've been forwarding around that pointed to, I think it was more than 50% of state broadband money has gone to the combination of Charter and Comcast.
Christopher Mitchell (28:01):
Well, yeah, I I've seen a number of different ones. I mean, like Windstream and Frontier have received more than 200 million, which is remarkable. Both of them just coming outta bankruptcy after years of Wow. Of engaging in really horrible practices
Shayna Englin (28:14):
Coming outta bankruptcy and also settlements.
Christopher Mitchell (28:17):
Yes. Yeah. <laugh>, it's just, it's, yeah. And, and Comcast is my understanding is for people who are tracking this, and I am not one of them, that's one of the headaches I have not jumped into Comcast is the single largest winner of the biggest companies, which shocks me because they are not in most of the headlines. at and t and Charter Spectrum are publicly getting a lot of money, but Char Comcast is apparently gobbling it up behind the scenes. So
Shayna Englin (28:41):
Insane. Yeah. So I mean, I think, you know, our part of what we've really been working with community on is making sure that at the legislature and the governor's office and at the p c the rules are such that you know, at least community and local solutions have a fighting chance.
Christopher Mitchell (28:57):
Well, and you're seeing that and on all across proceedings, my understanding is you are seeing that more community groups are participating in, in, they're getting hooked on it, right? They're <laugh>, they've had you gave 'em their sample and now they're interested in more. They're
Shayna Englin (29:11):
Well, and like what you've seen is, if you've looked at who's participating in proceedings you know, last week compared to a year and a half ago, it's an entirely different set of stakeholders. you know, well, it's not different. You still have C C T A and C T I A and all the industry players and Charter and Verizon, et cetera. but they used to be the only ones really with like very few exceptions
Christopher Mitchell (29:35):
Now, where turn would someone jump in occasionally on their own, but
Shayna Englin (29:38):
Turn or, or, or center for Accessible Technology has been a stalwart and awesome. and they've actually been great about providing technical assistance to others to do the same both of them have, but now you have, you know it's not quite a parody, but you have, you know, in some cases literally dozens of community voices in these proceedings. And then that not only makes those proceedings more balanced and makes the decisions that come out of them more likely to be community serving. but it also, it's just this kind of like ecosystem support, right? So you get folks to, to walk across coals. I mean, the number of, the number of just Open Zoom calls where it's like, okay, you're doing this. I'm just gonna be on here. Paul Goodman from C R I T, we're just gonna be on here and we're, we're here to walk you through anything or to let you vent all the curse words about how complicated this is.
Yep. Whatever you need. have been on a good number of those. and in the context of that, you know, people sort of bond over this. And so now in the last I guess it was a week and a half ago or so there was a proceeding that was really fast moving where Wispa, the wireless industry became a party and asked the C P U C to go back and change some sort of hard one rules in the federal funding account that make it a wired and not a wireless account. And we were able to, within, I wanna say it was like 24 hours, basically turn around a joint filing of a whole bunch of of organizations that had already done the work to become parties already were familiar enough with the process and had gotten to know each other on these, you know commiserating Zoom calls <laugh> to be able to trust each other enough to say, yeah, I'm gonna read through it and I'm happy to have join these with you. so it does have a, an awesome kind of ecosystem effect too.
Christopher Mitchell (31:32):
Yes. So there's, there's hope, and when you get people,
Shayna Englin (31:35):
Oh, so much hope
Christopher Mitchell (31:36):
<laugh>, when you get people up to speed and enthusiastic they'll, they'll join in. And I, I've hope that that provides its own gravity to, to keep going.
Shayna Englin (31:46):
Christopher Mitchell (31:48):
Well, Shayna, thank you so much for a whirlwind of updates from California where there is hope. we see lots of movement in lots of different areas, and yet there's still so much more work to be done, <laugh>. So indeed,
Shayna Englin (32:02):
A as indicated by our survey showing like, you know, I, my, the lawyers in my life were like, don't say discriminatory. That means something specific. Definitely price disparities and potentially discriminatory. And I think you're gonna start to see as a result of the study released today and and some attention that we've already been receiving as a result of it some investigations and some real action on it.
Christopher Mitchell (32:27):
And this is something other groups can do in their locales as well. Absolutely. And absolutely Absolut be wonderful to collect this data. We are at some point possibly gonna have data from the broadband labels that will be coming out again at some point. And the broadband
Shayna Englin (32:42):
Maps, oh, Springs Eternal. Chris,
Christopher Mitchell (32:44):
The broadband maps next year at this time may be somewhat useful. Who maybe so getting that pipeline going to collect local data and potentially, you know, I think replicating what you've done there or trying to work with consumer Reports, which is putting that database together. Like there's different, there's different ways to move forward, but local groups need to take action and collect this data themselves.
Shayna Englin (33:08):
Christopher Mitchell (33:09):
Wonderful. Well we'll see you again in another 20 shows, <laugh>.
Shayna Englin (33:14):
All right, sounds good. I'll clock it. Chris.
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