News

Posted February 1, 2023 by sean

Save the date! ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks team is back for a second season of our Building for Digital Equity series. The free online live stream will be held on Feb. 16 from 2-3 pm CST/3-4 pm ET. We will unpack how local communities are working with their states to challenge the FCC’s broadband maps and more.

 

Posted February 1, 2023 by sean

AARP has announced it is accepting applications for its seventh annual Community Challenge grant program, a funding source for nonprofit organizations and governmental entities to apply for “quick-action” projects that make communities more livable and have the potential to seed long-term change. 

Previous grant awards were given for a wide-range of initiatives, including a 2021 project that provided Wi-Fi, smart home devices, a computer lab and digital literacy programming for older adults in a public housing development in Jersey City, NJ; and a 2019 program to help bridge the digital divide and social isolation by funding a hotspot lending program that distributed 60 hotspot devices.

Posted January 30, 2023 by ry

In an announcement last week, Alexandria, Minnesota's (pop. 15,000) electric and water utility (ALP Utilities) announced it would be selling its business-facing fiber network to Arvig, a 40-percent employee-owned Internet Service Provider (ISP) that has 54,000 subscribers across urban and rural Minnesota. The deal was for 130 business accounts, including 77 routes miles of fiber and 13 additional miles of conduit, for a total of $3.25 million. Consideration of the move goes at least back to October of last year.

A Practical Solution With Added Local Benefits

Posted January 27, 2023 by ry

Join us live on Thursday, February 2nd, at 2pm ET for the latest episode of the Connect This! Show. Co-hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) will be joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to talk about all the broadband news that's fit to print.

Email us at broadband@muninetworks.org with feedback and ideas for the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed or find it on the Connect This! page, and watch on LinkedIn, on YouTube Live, on Facebook live, on Twitch, or below.

Posted January 26, 2023 by Karl Bode

Dryden, New York, population 14,500, has formally launched the town’s municipal broadband network, becoming the first municipality in the state to provide residents with direct access to affordable, publicly owned fiber.

According to the Dryden Fiber website, the town now offers local access to fiber broadband at three speed tiers: symmetrical 400 Megabits per second (Mbps) for $45 a month, symmetrical 700 Mbps for $75 a month, and symmetrical gigabit broadband service for $90 a month.

Posted January 24, 2023 by Karl Bode

LA County is accelerating its plan to deliver affordable broadband access to the city’s unserved and underserved, with an eye toward building one of the biggest municipal broadband networks in the nation. But the county is first taking baby steps, recently announcing target communities prioritized in a pilot program aimed at bridging the digital divide.

Posted January 24, 2023 by ry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Rudolf van der Berg, Partner at Stratix Consulting, a Dutch consulting firm that does work in telecommunications and has been deeply involved in the historic level of new infrastructure deployment projects in northern Europe. Rudolf breaks down what's going on today in Europe's broadband landscape, including efforts to reach the unserved, new entrants, and the actions of private equity.

Posted January 23, 2023 by ry

Despite the release of the first draft of the new national broadband maps at the end of last year (and the first round of location-level and service availability corrections completed a couple of weeks ago), we're not holding our breath that 2023 will spell the end of the technology news cycle story trope of the family that buys a new house and learns that the monopoly ISPs don't actually know where they provide service in their territories across the United States.

Posted January 19, 2023 by ry

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for a Leading Edge Fellowship for the second time. The application window has opened for recent PhDs in the humanities to apply for a two-year, full-time fellowship to be a Tribal Broadband Policy Analyst. The fellow will continue and contribute to foundational work by ILSR on Internet access in Indian Country while gaining experience in the regular portfolio of research and policy activities by the Community Broadband Networks initiative at ILSR. 

Posted January 18, 2023 by ry

This week on the show, the staff get together to bend their collective imagination to what we expect to see as the biggest news stories of 2023. Returning to join Christopher are Sean Gonsalves, Christine Parker, Emma Gautier, and Ry Marcattilio to discuss the BEAD funding rollout, mapping, the current state of preemption laws, Starry, the FCC, and more. 

Who will be right? Wrong? We'll have to wait until December to find out!

Posted January 17, 2023 by christopher

Last Friday was a major milestone in the process of moving $42.5 billion from the federal government to states to distribute mostly to rural areas to build new, modern Internet access networks. January 13th marked the deadline for error corrections (called challenges) to the official national map that will be used to determine how much each state will get. As an organization that has worked in nearly all 50 states over the past 20 years on policies to improve Internet access, we spent the last few weeks struggling to understand what was actually at stake and wondering if we were alone in being confused about the process. Despite the stakes, almost no expert we talked to actually understood which challenges – if any – would fix errors in the map data before it was used to allocate the largest single federal broadband investment in history. 

Posted January 12, 2023 by Karl Bode

More than 121 Colorado cities and towns have now opted out of SB152, a 17-year old state law backed by telecom monopolies greatly restricting the construction and funding of community broadband alternatives. And the trend shows no sign of slowing down. 

Colorado’s SB152, passed in 2005 after lobbying pressure by Comcast and Centurylink, prohibits the use of municipal or county money for broadband infrastructure without first holding a public vote. Deep pocketed monopolies know they can usually outspend municipalities, bombarding voters with misleading marketing to try and shift the vote in their favor.

Posted January 10, 2023 by Karl Bode

From the miraculous benefits of WiMax to the near-mystical levels of hype surrounding 5G, U.S. wireless companies have long promised near-Utopian levels of technological revolution. Yet time after time these promises have fallen short, reminding a telecom sector all-too-familiar with hype that fiber optics remains, for now, the backbone of bridging the digital divide. From Google Fiber to Starry, numerous companies have promised to use wireless technology as a supplement or even replacement for future-proof fiber. But more often than not these promises have failed to have any meaningful impact at scale. Worse, many wireless services often fail to deliver on a routinely neglected aspect of telecom policy: affordability.

Posted January 9, 2023 by sean

Kicking off the new year, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s office announced $234 million of the state’s Capital Projects Fund (CPF) will be used to deploy new high-speed Internet infrastructure in the Peach State, courtesy of the American Rescue Plan Act.

The lion’s share of those federal funds, being administered by the state’s broadband office, will be gobbled up by the four national telecom giants operating in the state. The rest of the grant money will be shared by a half dozen electric cooperatives for smaller projects.

In total, the grants were awarded to 12 different applicants to fund 29 different projects across 28 counties.

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