Transcript: Community Broadband Bits Episode 432

This is the transcript for Episode 432 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. In this episode, Christopher speaks with Ben Fineman, president of the Michigan Broadband Initiative, as well as Jo Anne Munce and Gary Munce, both of whom were essential in the ballot campaign for Lyndon Township's municipal network and who volunteer with the Broadband Initiative. They discuss how the network came into being, its operational partnership with a nearby electric cooperative, and its efforts to continue providing fast, affordable, reliable Internet access. Listen to the episode, or read the transcript.

Ben Fineman: Is it worth it? If I were to go back and had it to do over again, would I have undertaken it, knowing what I know now? I've asked myself that question before. The answer is absolutely because despite everything that goes along with it in all the stress and anxiety and uncertainty, the result is so critical.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: Welcome to episode 432 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. This is Ry Marcattilio-McCracken here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. Today on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Ben Fineman, president of the Michigan Broadband Initiative, as well as Jo Anne Munce and Gary Munce, both of whom were essential in the ballot campaign for Lyndon Township's municipal network and who volunteer with the Broadband Initiative.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: Christopher catches up with what's been going on since the measure passed a little over three years ago. The township owns the network with area electric cooperative, Midwest Energy and Communications, operating it on a day-to-day basis. The group talks about the network's phenomenal 75% take rate, the current state of its debt and how it just increased speeds on two of the service tiers with no additional fees. Lyndon Township serves as a great example of a community that decided to tax itself for a fiber network and are reaping the rewards. Now, here's Christopher talking with Ben, Jo Anne and Gary.

Christopher Mitchell: Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. I'm

Christopher Mitchell with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and I'm in St. Paul, Minnesota. Today I'm speaking with a fine man from Michigan,

Ben Fineman, who volunteers as the president of the Michigan broadband Cooperative. Welcome to the show.

Ben Fineman: Thank you, Chris. It's great to be back.

Christopher Mitchell: I'm excited to get our listeners caught up. Then we also have Gary and

Jo Anne Munce back, or Gary's back, Jo Anne, I'm excited to have you on for the first time, both of whom were essential in the ballot campaign and both of whom volunteer with the Michigan Broadband Cooperative. Welcome to the show.

Jo Anne Munce: Thank you.

Gary Munce: Nice to be here, Chris.

Christopher Mitchell: So I didn't check the last time we talked, but I will note that however long it's been, on October 24th, the University of Minnesota will play the University of Michigan in football to kick off the Big Ten season and we stand a much better chance than we have at any other year in the past.

Jo Anne Munce: [crosstalk 00:00:02:31].

:2:26

Christopher Mitchell: So I want to make sure we get this in before there was any bad blood between us.

Gary Munce: Let's just leave it at that.

Ben Fineman: Since none of us will be there in person, broadband is all the more important-

Ben Fineman: ... so we can see how well we beat you.

Christopher Mitchell: So one of the things that I wanted to do is just to kick off with a quick history of what we covered last time in the last interview. We don't need to go over it all, but you all engineered a remarkable vote, with remarkable turnout, the highest I believe in any special election that your township has had, in order for people to raise their taxes in order to build a broadband fiber optic network. So let me ask you Ben, if you just want to give me a couple of details about how that came about, and then I'll ask Gary and Jo Anne to fill in any other details that they want to about that. So what's the thumbnail sketch of what you're doing in Lyndon?

Ben Fineman: Yeah, I mean the short version is that the citizens of Lyndon Township got together to talk about the broadband issue, realized nobody else was going to solve the problem for us, so banded together to solve the problem ourselves and went through a lot of conversations and a lot of work and at the end of the day, it looked like the best solution was to build a fiber optic network, reaching all the homes in Lyndon township and fund it with a municipal bond backed by a millage. So that's the concept that we took the vote and yeah, fortunately the vote went very well and passed by a huge margin of two to one. Today, the network is ... Well, the network is complete. We don't have everybody hooked up yet, but we're getting close to that as well.

Gary Munce: So yeah, Chris, I mean, Ben makes it all sound so smooth and so slick.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, right. I mean, just a few nights of work and here you are.

Gary Munce: Couple of days and we're up and running. I think what Ben and I and Jo Anne have been working on this for the better part of five years and actually, the actual construction of the project didn't really begin until 2018, two years ago. So there was more time spent before than during the actual implementation of the project. So, five years of doing it, I think is one of the lessons we learned. When Ben said we had to do it ourselves, we thought it was just literally put a shovel in the ground, throw some cable in and away we go. But there were some lessons that we learned along the way that it took us a little bit longer than we expected.

5:01

Jo Anne Munce: Just getting to the point of readiness to the residents of the township, the group that Gary and Ben had been involved in was a Western Washtenaw focus thing and they had approached the state legislature to see what kind of help would come there, various cable providers. So the realization that no one was going to do this, but ourselves came after going down all the obvious avenues first to see ... I mean, why should citizens have to do this themselves? But nope, they do.

Christopher Mitchell: Yes and this is a conversation I have frequently with people asking, "Why am I spending five years of my life doing this?" Unfortunately it seems, that's how we have to do things in rural America often, to make sure we have the essential services that we need. Now, you're talking about a 36 square mile area. The network costs about ... it was forecast to cost about $7 million. How many people are we talking about in this area?

Gary Munce: Well, there's lots of numbers we could throw around. I mean, Lyndon Township probably has a population of around 3,000 people I would think. We have about 1,200 households in Lyndon Township roughly, and of those 1,200 households, we have 900 subscribers to our broadband network.

Christopher Mitchell: So you have a higher subscription rate than you had support rate for the vote, which is what you really want to see fundamentally, sounds like people are-

Gary Munce: That's definitely true. Yes, it's true.

Jo Anne Munce: It's a much higher rate than the target break even rate that we had crossed our fingers and hoped for after the vote. So it's really fabulous.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, that's one of the questions that I had because I'm curious how the business model really works, in that you knew you had to raise a certain amount of money from the millage, from the tax increase. Where does the extra money go, to the extent that there is any? Because as you have more subscribers than expected, does that mean that you require less of a tax contribution than you might have otherwise? Or how does that work out?

Ben Fineman: So municipal finance is a tricky thing and I mean the obvious thing to do ... So the project is running under budget and we're confident that we're going to complete the project, not only within the allocated amount, but with a little bit left over. So the obvious thing to do would just be to give it back basically and use it to pay down the bond early. Unfortunately, nothing in life is easy and it's not clear that we're able to do just that. But the goal is to put it back toward the benefit of the township and the residents of the township. We think there are some avenues to explore, to reduce the remaining tax liability for everybody. If not, we're going to make sure it's applied in ways that benefit the township as a whole.

7:59

Gary Munce: Not to get too far down in the weeds, Chris, but when the residents voted for this, that meant that every resident had to pay the millage, or was charged the millage, regardless of whether or not they took the service. So that money there, the millage, was merely meant to cover the construction costs of our network. So by the fact that we have more subscribers, doesn't really relate to the fact of what the cost of the network was.

Christopher Mitchell: Oh, I'm very glad you pointed that out because I think that's a really important detail. Now, one of the things that we had talked about was that that way of financing it fell harder on some of the larger property owners. Have you had a sense of whether they are good with that now and that they have something that they can see and they understand that it is working and that sort of a thing? I mean, how are people reacting with the benefit now of actually having a product? For most of them, I know a few people still have to be signed up.

Gary Munce: It's a difficult question to answer Chris, because really, I think one of the things that I've learned is that while there was a lot of clamoring during the construction and, "When will I be hooked up and when will I have service?" Once people get service, then we don't really hear much from them anymore.

Christopher Mitchell: They're too busy playing video games.

Gary Munce: So, I mean, anecdotally I've had people tell me lots of things, that it is really great. It's better than they thought and a lot of that has been washed away, but I really don't think that I can say with confidence that I've had a groundswell of people rushing up to me and telling me how great it is, and maybe that's yet to come.

Christopher Mitchell: Right, they'll carry you on your shoulders and announced that you are their king.

Gary Munce: Sure.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, I mean, here we are talking and I made a comment to Ben the last time I'd seen you Ben, about there's been some events of the past eight months that have made this an important investment for the community. You have communities around you that don't have this, you have one that decided in a vote not to proceed with a similar model, is there a sense among people that you've got the timing just perfect on this and do you have a sense from surrounding communities if they're more motivated now?

10:14

Ben Fineman: Well, I definitely wouldn't say it's just perfect because when the pandemic hit, we were not yet fully deployed. So just perfect would have been wrapping everything up right before the pandemic hit. But even though it wasn't perfect, I think there's an overwhelming sentiment, especially from people who have gotten hooked up during the pandemic, that this is available now, in that if we hadn't started five years ago, we wouldn't be in the position that we are. I think there is a broad recognition of that and I think there is a recognition of the advantageous position that Lyndon Township is in versus our neighboring communities. Again, it's just anecdotal conversations that I've heard from neighbors but there are folks in the neighboring townships who are pointing to Lyndon Township and saying, "Look, if we had only engaged on this project that we talked about a number of years ago, we could be where they are today." And instead where they are now, which is not having reasonable connectivity, or in some cases, any connectivity at all.

Jo Anne Munce: Yeah. We're in the process of getting new next-door neighbors who are coming here from Chicago suburb. Washtenaw County was a focus because her parents live northwest of here. They limited their search because the Internet was crucial and Lyndon was it, they wanted to be rural. So, that's one anecdote, but we've heard others, people making their decisions based on the availability of good quality Internet.

Christopher Mitchell: Now, how does the administration of the network work? I mean, I know that you've contracted with an electric co-op there in Michigan. I believe it's Midwest Energy, right?

Gary Munce: Correct.

Christopher Mitchell: Yep. Now. if there's an issue of ironing it out, does the Lyndon Township have a person who is monitoring things? I mean, is there actually any staff that works for the network that you've built directly?

12:25

Gary Munce: There is no staff from the township that works on the project. Basically we have volunteers that oversee the implementation of a network, and now it's been moved from implementation to operation, we now have a group of volunteers that are oversight committee that oversees the network, but really the day-to-day operations of the network is MEC. They're the operator, Lyndon is the owner. The oversight committee is just in place to make sure that things are running smoothly, contractual obligations are being met. If there's any complaints that need to be fielded by that group, they would, but there's no full-time, part-time person that works for the township whose responsibility is telecommunications.

Ben Fineman: Yeah, Gary characterized it well. Just to stress for your listeners, that that was by design because Lyndon Township, like most rural municipalities, don't have much in terms of staff, under normal operating procedures, they don't have any full-time staff. They have a couple of partial FTEs that conduct essential operations for the township and collecting taxes and things that need to be done but they were in no position to absorb the operational requirements, to be an ISP. It wasn't in our interest for them to staff up to take on that role. So the relationship with Midwest Energy has worked out really well in that regard. if a resident has an issue and there needs to be a truck roll and a technician needs to come out to their house, Midwest takes care of that. Nobody's waking up anybody from the township in the middle of the night.

Ben Fineman: But as Gary described, we do want to make sure there is a layer of oversight, to make sure our residents are getting the best possible service from our partnership over the infrastructure that they as residents paid for. So the oversight committee and the volunteers that serve on that are filling that role. The word ombudsman has been thrown around as a characterization of what that role is. I had to look that up, but it seems like it's a fair way to describe what they're doing.

Christopher Mitchell: So, Gary, what did you Jo Anne do, to be last on the list?

14:45

Gary Munce: Well, it wasn't really very hard. Maybe there's some sort of conspiracy that I have yet to discover, but I mean, basically it just worked out that the way the sequence of construction for the township rolled, I mean, we could go back to the financial model. It was, we needed to bring on as many subscribers in a timely fashion as we possibly could. So, that meant looking at where that would happen throughout the township. That drove the sequence in which we would get the people brought online. We needed to reach a critical number so that we would be able to pay for the service part of the network, not the installation of the construction, but the service part and the service part is paid for from subscriptions by residents. So Jo Anne and I live in a part of the township that's not quite as heavily populated as other parts and that rolled along with, I guess the fact that some people didn't want us to have Internet, I don't know. They put us last on the list.

Ben Fineman: Gary complains too much. We like to keep him quiet out there.

Christopher Mitchell: It sounds like it's working.

Gary Munce: Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: Jo Anne, I'm curious if you can give us a sense of ... When I've talked to people that have engaged in similar efforts, three years ago I don't think you had a sense yet of whether all of this time and effort would have been worth it if you would have just run into a brick wall at some point, and not been able to build the network. I mean, just give me a sense of how you felt along those periods and a sense of how you got over it. Because the people that I think are mostly going to be listening to this episode are people who are in the middle of that, where they don't know if they're going to be able to get it built or not. So how do you get through that?

Jo Anne Munce: One of the simple things for us to keep ourselves on track on this was if we needed to do a Windows update on our laptop, we needed to go into Chelsea to do it because it would take days and days if we tried to do it here at home. So just keeping in mind what we have compared to what was possible. I think for me, because I wasn't involved in the implementation committee activities, just hearing from Gary along the way of the numerous hurdles that the committee ran into during the time of trying to just get the conduit laid, it's a good thing we didn't know about some of those, and a good thing we didn't know about rattlesnake habitat that was protected, and God knows what ... Oh yeah, the road commission wanted us to survey the township. Yeah right, us, before they would let us do what they let Verizon or anybody else just go ahead and do. Am I saying more than I should? Anyhoo.

17:34

Christopher Mitchell: So, I mean, I just heard this from another guest of another show recently is that that naivete can be helpful to make sure that you don't abandon, but at the same time, when you look at that amazing connection coming from Ben's computer, it seems like it's all worth it.

Jo Anne Munce: Oh cool.

Gary Munce: [inaudible 00:17:57] but Chris, I think you do have it and one of the points, I think where we are now, I would say a great deal of, or some of what we're doing, is looking back now, we're looking at what we've done. For a long time, we were looking forward to what we had to do. So that looking back perspective is interesting because looking back, I don't feel there was ever a time during the project ... We've never built a fiber optic network in our lives, and chances are good that we'll never build another one. I don't know, we may, we may help, but I don't feel that ever there was a time that we felt we were in some sort of dire straits about being able to complete the project.

Gary Munce: It's like anything, you know what you know, and there's things that you don't know. When they come up, it was amazing that our group ... Well, amazing, it was to their credit, that they were able to seriously think about what the situation was and arrive at a way forward. So looking back that's, to me one of the major things. Never thought it wouldn't be completed, but yeah, there were some moments where Ben and I would call each other on the phone and talk things over and wish for a brighter day tomorrow.

Ben Fineman: We shared many a heartfelt conversation over a beer at the local pub, we'll [inaudible 00:00:19:21]. But no, to add on to your question, Chris, is it worth it? If I were to go back and had it to do over again, would I have undertaken it knowing what I know now? I've asked myself that question before and the answer is absolutely, because despite everything that goes along with it in all the stress and anxiety and uncertainty, the result is so critical. Especially with the pandemic, I have a nine-year-old daughter and we had to make the decision of what to do for her schooling this year. Well, I'm grateful every day that we have the broadband, because if we didn't, we would be in a much more difficult situation with virtual schooling. That's part of what drives us to continue to try to help other communities do what we've done. So it is a difficult thing, but for those that are in the middle of their projects and haven't yet seen the light at the end of the tunnel, it is worth it when you get there.

20:33

Christopher Mitchell: In our previous conversation, we talked about other townships following in your footsteps. I know that Sharon Township had a vote and there was a campaign to misinform people, with making statements that may not have been entirely truthful, that led to people voting down that effort. I don't know if there's been any other votes. What are the other townships around you doing? I know because one of the things that you were very clear on is that you didn't want to make people reinvent the wheel. You wanted to find a way of helping them to get through that hard period more easily.

Ben Fineman: In Washtenaw County, which is the county that Lyndon Township is in, we had a lot of individual conversations with our neighboring townships and the method that we have been using to try to drive all those conversations forward is aggregating them at the county level. We were successful in engaging with the county board of commissioners, and they recognized the importance of the issue for the townships that don't have broadband. So they formed a broadband task force. We completed a county-wide study to quantify the broadband gap within the county. Through that, we identified that FCC data says the county is only 4% unserved or something like that, whereas the data that we showed in the rural areas, actually 64% of the rural areas are lacking broadband service. So, that was step one. We now have quantified the issue much better than the existing data would suggest.

Ben Fineman: Then step two is actually doing something about it. The county has chosen not to engage in owning infrastructure. So instead we're pursuing public private partnerships with other ISPs in the area to go after grant money and use other funding sources to close the gaps in those areas that we've identified.

Christopher Mitchell: Jo Anne or Gary, do you want to add on anything?

Gary Munce: Lyndon's situation, I think all of these situations with these rural areas all differ somewhat in terms of the various things, current coverage, how many people are served, how many are not, some of these rural areas of small cities or towns that are within them that already have some sort of service. So what's becoming an issue or something I think about, is with Washtenaw County, it's not like one size fits all where we're just going to sweep through the entire county and all of the citizens will have broadband access. I think one of the things that concerns me is that with these grant monies and census tracks and blocks and how things get bid out and done, we're going to end up with some sort of patchwork quilt of some will have it and some won't and it's going to be really hard to get to that complete 100% goal when we use this sort of fractionalized method of implementing broadband and that's troublesome for me.

23:42

Jo Anne Munce: Yeah. That's very troublesome because you ended up just stratifying things further. I really am hopeful that once Lyndon is fully up and running, that the model that we used will be adopted by some of our other rural townships in the county, because it's really the only way, I believe, to get everybody covered. The grant monies and so on that are available have just been so limited, in the greater scale, you couldn't possibly provide everybody with service with the money that's available. Now, if Biden is elected, he has talked a lot about rural broadband and maybe something will happen, but it's going to take a lot of money.

Ben Fineman: Thing I wanted to add before we move on from that, is that we recognize this is an issue, not just within our neighboring townships, but in rural areas throughout the state. So that was one of the reasons we formed our nonprofit as the Michigan Broadband Cooperative. Now, we have also recognized that as a ragtag group of volunteers, there's only so much we can do to affect change at a state level. For that reason, we've been partnering with Merit networks. Merit is the non-profit research and education network for the state of Michigan. They have been so kind as to take up the mantle with something they're calling the Michigan Moonshot Initiative, and they're trying to help close the broadband gap with the goal of closing the homework gap, because they have an education focus, but they recognize that in this day and age, kids not having broadband at home is a huge issue for the educational landscape.

Ben Fineman: So we have been working with them to help further that mission together. One of the early outputs of that is the Michigan Moonshot Framework, which is a free document that can be downloaded and aggregates a lot of resources from organizations all around the country. So want to be clear, it's not it's all Merit or all the cooperative, it's a joint effort between a lot of folks that are experts in this space, but this is a free resource that attempts to bring all those resources together in one digestible document for communities that are trying to address this problem in their own areas.

26:07

Christopher Mitchell: Digestible for an elephant.

Ben Fineman: Yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: That framework is terrific. It is the single best resource I think, available for communities. The Michigan Moonshot is a ... it's a wonderful project Ben, I'm glad you brought it up. I definitely encourage people to take a look. Don't be intimidated, just focus on the areas that are relevant for you. You don't have to read the whole thing. Definitely just look at what's relevant for you. A piece of that, I think, and I'm curious if you want to just talk a little bit about this Ben, is that there's been a lot of surveys in the Washtenaw area and data collection and things like that, that come out of that framework where they've gathered a lot of these best practices and things like that. So just a little bit more, maybe enticement, of what's available in there in this direction?

Ben Fineman: Yeah. So, I mentioned the survey project Washtenaw County did with Merit and the disparity that it reveals between the FCC data the actual situation on the ground. I think one of the other main benefits that can be gotten from that kind of survey is the sentiment analysis that goes along with it in terms of uncovering how important broadband is to the citizens within your community. Because it's not just the black or white, whether they have broadband or whether they don't, but if they don't, how much do they care about it and what are they willing to do about it? We've been able to uncover a lot of that and use that as a foundation to help move things forward. I think that's critical when you're talking about solving a problem as a community, versus just a couple of people who are interested in it.

Ben Fineman: The other part is, I think the document does a good job contrasting the different technology solutions available. Especially in the year of COVID, we've been inundated with people who are new to the conversation and they're passionate about solving the broadband gap, but they want to do it now. You really need to understand the technical landscape to understand why it's not just an immediate solution and to actually solve the problem correctly, it's going to take a few years, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't try. The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago, the next best time is today. So, plant your fiber network today.

28:42

Christopher Mitchell: And that brings me back to something Jo Anne had said about the possibility of a Biden administration. Democrats in Congress have talked a lot about, and they've passed bills, that show what they would like to do in terms of getting broadband out. I sometimes feel like people feel like that's the solution. The thing is, is that that money has to go somewhere. It's not like it's just going to magically come out of D.C. as dollars and then show up in your community as fiber, you need to have a local plan of how to make use of it.

Gary Munce: I think this whole discussion of what Ben said and what you point out Chris, is that I look back when we started this, we were engaged in ... Well, we started this five years ago and at that time I can remember having a conversation with myself about, "Is this something we really need? I mean, how are we going to do this? What's going to happen? Even I had all this questions, I still felt I had that thing inside of me saying, "You know, we need to take this on now."

Gary Munce: I think that goes back to Ben's point. People expect immediate results trying to solve this problem today. That's just not going to happen, but I can tell you, it's also not going to happen unless you start doing something now.

Ben Fineman: Yeah, as you pointed out, Chris, without fail, the grant opportunities that we've seen come out favor shovel-ready projects. So if you see a grant announcement and that's when you start working on your project, it's already too late. You need to start working on your project now, so that your project is ready to go when that next grant opportunity-

Gary Munce: When that opportunity comes in.

Christopher Mitchell: Now, last question Jo Anne, you're a few weeks away from having your ultra fast connection. Aside from having a well-patched Windows machine, what else are you looking forward to doing?

Jo Anne Munce: We still have problems with having enough bandwidth to watch a movie if we decide we want to do that. So little things like that, and just having things happen faster than I can think of making them happen. I mean, that's how it feels in my mind, that we're working ... What's our speed?

30:51

Gary Munce: 1.4 megabits per second.

Jo Anne Munce: Yeah, you can't use the word speed, so that's what's goin to be ...

Gary Munce: So Chris we're like these, I don't know what. We have some self-service, we have a little bit of DSL. At any given time, either or both of them may or may not be working. They seem to know ... they're slightly psychic in that if I have something really critical to do, neither of them will work. It's very frustrating to just not know from one hour to the next that we're going to have a connection to the world. I mean, really, this is 2020 after all and it's just hard to put the two thoughts together.

Christopher Mitchell: That's right. It reminds me of a study that asked people if they would rather have a commute that they knew was going to be 45 minutes, no matter what, or a commute in which sometimes it would be 30 minutes and sometimes it would be 60 minutes-

Gary Munce: No, they'd take [inaudible 00:31:43].

Christopher Mitchell: ... they'll take that longer commute every time because it's a certainty.

Gary Munce: Every time. Absolutely, yeah.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, is there anything else that you want to make sure that we share with folks regarding this Lyndon Township approach, the Michigan Broadband Cooperative, or have we covered it all pretty well?

Ben Fineman: I'll throw out, as an enticement, the service levels that we've ended up with, which by the way, during our feasibility study, we estimated the service levels and the price points. when we went to market, we hit those levels almost exactly. In just this month, we actually announced service level increases for our bottom two tiers of service with no price increases. So the service levels now are starting at $35 a month for 50 megabits of service, $45 a month for 250 megabit service and $70 a month for gigabit service, no data caps, symmetric service.

Christopher Mitchell: Well, I think that we can all agree that I deserve to get a big football victory because you guys have those wonderful rates.

Gary Munce: Well, I think we know it's a well-known fact that Michigan has a incredibly long and esteemed football history, that I think we should also recognize.

Jo Anne Munce: Well, we do like P.J. too, though.

Gary Munce: We do like P.J.. After all, where did he start his [inaudible 00:33:11], wasn't he from Michigan?

Christopher Mitchell: Central.

Ben Fineman: Yeah.

33:16

Christopher Mitchell: Well, that's great. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk and I just have to say that I think that you all are an inspiration for many other communities. I really appreciate the hard work you've done. You make it sound like fun, but even if you aren't carried around like the kings that you are, kings and queens, we are big fans of the work that you've done and hope that it allows other communities around you to benefit as well. So thank you all.

Jo Anne Munce: Thank you.

Gary Munce: Thank you, Chris, for putting all this together. I got to tell you that we leaned on you a lot during all of this, and we appreciate everything you've helped us with.

Christopher Mitchell: That's why I'm here.

Gary Munce: Good, well it worked out.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: That was Christopher talking with Ben Fineman, Jo Anne Munce and Gary Munce. We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muninetworks.org/broadbandbits. Email us at podcast@muninetworks.org, with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handle is @communitynets. Follow muninetworks.org stories on Twitter, the handle is @muninetworks.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: Subscribe to this and other podcasts from ILSR, including Building Local Power, Local Energy Rules and the Composting for Community podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly newsletter@ilsr.org. While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount keeps us going.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken: Thank you to Arne Huseby for the song is Warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was episode 432 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast. Thanks for listening.

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