When utilities, including broadband providers, need to cross railroad rights-of-way to serve customers, some railroad operators have been known to press their advantage. Several states have addressed utility complaints by establishing standardized rates and setting up processes to create a more reasonable and predictable system. Eliminating this obstacle to deployment is another step in bringing broadband to the communities that need it the most.
Across the country, state legislatures are ushering in better rural connectivity by passing new laws that enable electric cooperatives to expand high-quality Internet access. In recent years, much of this legislation has authorized co-ops to deploy broadband infrastructure along existing electric easements. Other bills have removed restrictions that previously prevented electric co-ops from providing Internet access. Together, the new legislation makes it easier for electric cooperatives to bring high-speed broadband access to their members, signaling a brighter future for unconnected rural communities
Indiana in the Lead
The community of Falmouth, Massachusetts, continues to march forward with their plans to find a way to bring better connectivity to the coastal town. Falmouth Economic Development & Industrial Corporation (EDIC) recently issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a feasibility study for a community network. Proposals are due August 12, 2019.
Late in June, consultants hired by Lakeland, Florida, reported to city commissioners that the community is well situated to launch a broadband utility. Lakeland has drifted between options in recent years while making investments that ultimately have contributed to their current footing.
We last reported on the city’s activities in October 2016 when community leaders chose to seek out a private partner, issuing a Request for Proposals (RFP). Decision makers were intimidated at the thought of facing off against Charter Spectrum, citing the task of establishing a municipal network utility as too risky with aggressive incumbents willing to undercut prices.
Lack of broadband puts tribal, rural areas ‘in jeopardy,’ lawmakers told by Miranda Faulkner, Cronkite News
Duggan: Fort Collins gears up for city-owned broadband service launch by Kevin Duggan, Fort Collins Coloradoan
At the beginning of the year, our Community Broadband Networks team visited North Carolina as part of the Let’s Connect speaking tour. While preparing for the trip and after returning to Minnesota, we researched and mapped Internet access and broadband funding in the state. Here’s what we found.
About four years ago, city commissioners in the community of Chanute, Kansas, stepped back from plans to finance a Fiber-to-the-Home (FTTH) project. At the time, newly elected city leaders decided not to pursue the project, but Chanute once again has fiber on their list of priorities. Late in June, the current city commission voted 3 - 1 to deploy FTTH in two neighborhoods.
Requested by Residents
Residents from the Hillside/Sunset subdivisions and the neighborhood between 7th and 14th streets approached the city and asked to be connected. The pilot areas will include approximately 344 premises; city staff estimate connecting them will cost approximately $550,000. The vote in June authorized the city to spend idle funds from the electric utility with an expected payback within three year years.
Ferry County, located in the eastern region of Washington and along the northern border, recently released a Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for a Broadband Consultant. Responses are due July 12th, 2019.
Trees Abound, Broadband Absent
Much of Ferry County is home to the Colville National Forest and timber has been one of the main sources of the local economy. Like other areas where forests cover great swaths of the countryside, broadband is either expensive or has never been deployed. There are about 7,600 people living on Ferry County's 2,257 square miles.
In addition to timber, other resource-based industries have traditionally offered jobs to locals, but as those resources have depleted, employment opportunities have decreased. Without reliable broadband, many local residents have struggled to make ends meet.
Federal Communications Commission, Congress spar over San Francisco broadband law by Sophia Kunthara, San Francisco Chronicle
Mayor London Breed: FCC proposal would hurt SF consumers by Sophia Kunthara, San Francisco Chronicle
Rural Telecommunications Congress webcast series begins with focus on collaboration on Colorado’s western slopes by Masha Abarinova, BroadbandBreakfast
The lakes and forests of Aitkin County in northern Minnesota make it an ideal location for a vacation home, but poor connectivity has historically limited days spent at the cabin to weekends and holidays. However, a new partnership between Mille Lacs Energy Cooperative (MLEC) and Consolidated Telecommunications Company (CTC) is making it possible for families to extend their trips up north by connecting lakeside cabins with high-speed Internet access.
The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) recently released a call for Border to Border Broadband grant applications. The deadline to submit your application is September 13, 2019.
This year, the State Legislature has appropriated $20 million in funding for projects located in unserved or underserved communities. As a reminder, Minnesota has established the thresholds as:
Unserved area: households or businesses lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds of 25 Megabits per second (Mbps) download and 3 Mbps upload.
Underserved area: households or businesses do receive service at or above 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps, but lack access to wire-line broadband service at speeds of 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload.
When considering Independence Day, the Community Broadband Networks team here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance want to share our appreciation for the great things Americans love while maintaining our focus on connectivity. We decided that the Fourth of July, 2019, would be a day for us to celebrate something special that wouldn’t get very far without the magical technology of the Internet — the meme.
Merriam-Webster defines "meme" as:
1: an idea, behavior, style, or usage that spreads from person to person within a culture
2: an amusing or interesting item (such as a captioned picture or video) or genre of items that is spread widely online especially through social media
Since 2011, PCMag has collected speed data and written about the country’s Fastest ISPs based on download and upload results. This year’s results reflect, once again, that locations with publicly owned broadband infrastructure contribute to communities’ ability to offer faster connectivity.