In early September, officials in San Francisco made an offer to purchase assets belonging to Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). Preston Rhea, Director of Engineering, Policy Program at ISP MonkeyBrains believes that, while the purchase makes sense for electric ratepayers in the community, it could also herald a new age of connectivity for the citizens of San Francisco. We became familiar with Preston's vision and talent for innovation when we developed a report on MonkeyBrains, which collaborated with the city to offer high-quality Internet access to low-income households.
We recently realized that we’ve been sharing information, resources, and stories about publicly owned broadband networks for more than ten — TEN! — years. Our team has been so occupied helping local communities and working on projects, the anniversary went by without flowers, a cake, or a party. We’re still too busy for any of the typical celebratory activity, which is why we’re reaching out to you.
We want to hear what you need from MuniNetworks.org as we forge ahead.
Digital divide: Broadband access in Alabama by Greg Privett, Waay TV
Buying PG&E’s distribution network could also make municipal broadband possible by Preston Rhea, San Francisco Examiner
Time to provide real broadband service by Grant Beltrami, Napa Valley Register
Alternatives to getting broadband internet in Nevada County by Erika Kosina, The Union
As people living in areas plagued by hurricanes deal with increasingly difficult storms this time of year, policy advocates consider the impact of broadband on public safety. In this article shared with us by NC Broadband Matters, author Fiona Morgan reports on connectivity as critical for first responders. She delves into the ways FirstNet and other tools are affecting the conversation and she talks to people who work in emergency situations and understand communication needs during natural disasters.
Fiona's article originally ran on February 21st, 2019, on NC Hearts Gigabit's Our Stories.
Surviving the Storm: Why Broadband Matters for Public Safety
by Fiona Morgan
A mapping method to accurately depict broadband coverage in the U.S. remains elusive. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced that they intend to work on the issue but officials in North Carolina aren’t waiting. They’ve launched their own efforts to document Internet access speeds in order to challenge to the FCC’s broadband coverage map, the basis for many loan and grant programs.
Community members in Shutesbury, Massachusetts, are now receiving fast affordable, reliable connectivity in their homes and businesses delivered via their publicly owned broadband infrastructure. Folks in Shutesbury are now beginning to obtain the Internet access they’ve been chasing for more than five years.
This summer, Falmouth, Massachusetts, released a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a feasibility study for a community network. The community, where the year-round population of 32,000 swells to more than 105,000 in the summer, has investigated the possibilities of a publicly owned fiber optic network for the past several years. In early September, Christopher visited the east coast and appeared on FalmouthCommunityTV to share information with the greater Falmouth community.
Broadband Communities Mag has celebrated the unsung heroes of community broadband by sharing their stories so others can learn from local challenges and victories. This autumn, travel to Washington, D.C., to get noisy about those places implementing better connectivity in their communities without fanfare. October 30 and 31, Broadband Communities will bring several to their conference in a panel hosted by Christopher. There’s still plenty of time to sign up for the conference, and put the conversation, “Quiet Success in Community Broadband,” on your schedule.
Register here for the conference. Public Officials and Community Representatives receive a discounted rate of $175.
In the Nation’s Capital
Connexion launches broadband services, announces prices by Marshall Dunham, Collegian
Municipal broadband wins and Comcast fails scoring 1Gbps Internet service for $60 per month by Brandon Hill, Hot Hardware
“The cruel irony of the digital divide” in Colorado: Urban poor are left behind even as access, technology improves by Tamara Chuang, The Colorado Sun
Next Century Cities (NCC) helps communities across the U.S. connect to each other, find resources, and discover ways to improve local Internet access options. The organization has released valuable tools and resources to that aim, including their most recent fact sheet, The Opportunity of Municipal Broadband.
As broadband continues to become integrated into more aspects of life, researchers will find new ways to study and document the effects on modern society. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), in partnership with the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, recently created a searchable database of resources to help those seeking information on issues related to digital inclusion. The Broadband Research Base is ready to assist researchers, advocates, and community leaders.
Organizing the References
Less than a year ago, we reported on Dalton, Georgia’s transition to becoming the first gigabit city in the state. In August, the community took it up a notch when they began offering 10 gigabit residential Internet access from Dalton Utilities’ OptiLink.
As Foretold by Hank
When we interviewed Chief Technical Services Officer Hank Blackwood last November about the new gigabit tier, he told us that 10 gig plans were in the works. The boost in capacity is part of the city’s long-term vision to lure more tech innovators to Dalton. In addition to attracting firms able to offer more jobs, community leaders want to provide an environment ripe for entrepreneurs who may find working from home the secret sauce.
Applicants in the first round of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) ReConnect Loan and Grant Program requested over $1.4 billion to finance rural broadband expansion, exceeding available funds by more than $800 million. Despite tough competition, much of the funding may go to community broadband networks, since more than half of the applicants are publicly or collectively owned, including electric and telephone cooperatives, local governments, and federally recognized tribes.