News

Posted May 5, 2022 by sean

Nearly 85 years after first delivering electricity to Michigan's Thumb region, the Thumb Electric Cooperative (TEC) has “started to lay the groundwork” for the construction of an $80 million fiber-to-the-home network to serve its 12,300 members across three counties. The project, expected to be completed over the next five years, will deploy 1,500 miles of aerial fiber and connect to another 600 miles of underground fiber, which will allow the co-op to extend service beyond its current footprint thanks to its recent purchase of Air Advantage, a Thumb-area Internet Service Provider. 

 

Posted May 4, 2022 by sean

With an unprecedented opportunity for local communities to build their own ubiquitous high-speed Internet infrastructure, a new national organization has been formed to advocate on behalf of municipal broadband initiatives and to give local governments a seat at the table as federal and state officials craft legislation and grant programs to close the digital divide.

Today, at the Broadband Communities Summit 2022 in Houston, the group’s founding members held a press conference to announce the birth of the American Association of Public Broadband (AAPB).

“We were formed by a group of municipal officials in order to advance advocacy efforts for public broadband and to make sure they have a voice in Washington and in all 50 states,” said AAPB board member Bob Knight.

Posted May 4, 2022 by Henry

Hosts Christopher Mitchell (ILSR) and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by regular guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Doug Dawson (CCG Consulting) to roundup the latest news in community broadband. A special guest may join later in the show.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, on find it on the Connect This! page.

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

Posted May 3, 2022 by Christine Parker

Tens of billions of dollars in federal funding are poised for new broadband infrastructure deployment over the next five years. But a crucial step in allocating funds from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program lies in knowing where fast, affordable, reliable broadband access currently is, so that they know where to drive new investment. A new federal broadband map is currently under construction, but many states aren't waiting around and have begun to develop their own broadband maps. In classifying the various state-led efforts, we've developed a new resource we're releasing today to serve as an easy reference guide. It shows how states are going about mapping Internet access, and which ones we think are doing it better than others. We’re calling it our United State(s) of Broadband Maps.

Posted April 29, 2022 by Karl Bode

Back in January, Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) announced it was going to begin building a city-wide, open access fiber network owned, and that Ting would be its first anchor tenant. Construction of the network is expected to begin in the third quarter of this year, with a target completion date of 2028 (originally planned for fifteen years). The network will provide multi-gigabit service to roughly 200,000 homes as well as city businesses and anchor institutions.

Posted April 27, 2022 by christopher

Gigi Sohn is still up for confirmation by the Senate to complete the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - an independent agency in the executive branch of the federal government that has been stuck at a 2-2 split of Democrats and Republicans since President Biden took office. The FCC is supposed to operate with five commissioners, with the party of the President in power having 3 seats. 

She was the obvious choice in December of 2020, when it was clear that Joe Biden would take office. With decades of history in telecom and media-related policy as well as a recent stint as Counselor to Tom Wheeler when he was Chair of the FCC, she would be among the most-qualified people to serve on it since I began working in telecom in 2007. And by among, I mean at the top.

Posted April 27, 2022 by sean

The Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR), with support from AARP, has created the Exploring Digital Equity Fact Sheet Series. The series contains six user-friendly, easy-to-understand fact sheets to help demystify the challenges associated with creating digital equity by highlighting how expanding Internet access to everyone who wants it isn’t an infrastructure problem alone. Achieving digital equity for everyone in a community is a multi-faceted endeavor, and requires engaging and activating an array of stakeholders. These fact sheets unpack the issues, challenges, and opportunities today.

Posted April 27, 2022 by Henry

In this episode of the Connect This! Show, co-hosts Christopher Mitchell and Travis Carter (USI Fiber) are joined by guests Kim McKinley (UTOPIA Fiber) and Peggy Schaffer (Connect Maine) to talk about the latest in state spending, and other broadband news.

Subscribe to the show using this feed on YouTube Live or here on Facebook Live, on find it on the Connect This! page.

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

Watch here on YouTube Live, here on Facebook live, or below.

Posted April 26, 2022 by Henry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Shayna Englin, Director of the Digital Equity Initiative at the California Community Foundation.

During the conversation, the two talk about Shayna’s work with the Digital Equity Initiative, how their coalition brought about recent wins for community broadband in LA County, and what’s next in the fight to build a community-owned fiber network there.

Posted April 26, 2022 by sean

It’s official. Falmouth, Massachusetts has established a legal framework, a telecommunications utility, that is a key milestone in a local effort to bring fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) Internet service to this seaside community of approximately 32,000 famous for being home to a world-class marine science community as well as a popular summer vacation destination.

In the fall, Town Meeting voters voted 175-13 for the creation of the utility called a Municipal Light Plant (MLP). The law, however, requires two separate ‘yes’ votes with a 2/3 majority within a 13-month period. That second vote came earlier this month, when Town Meeting voters said “yes” to establishing an MLP by a vote of 159 to 25, well in excess of the 2/3 majority that was needed.

Posted April 25, 2022 by sean

The city of Seattle is looking to beef up its Information Technology department as it seeks to hire a Digital Equity Program & Broadband Manager.

The position will be a part of the city’s Client and Community Engagement Division and, according to the job posting, will play a central role in managing “digital inclusion planning and grants, broadband planning and advocacy, low-cost Internet program support, cable franchise administration, wireless affairs, and legislative advocacy for digital equity and telecommunication policy issues.”  

Posted April 25, 2022 by Ry Marcattilio-...

We see this question from time to time as one of the nuts and bolts parts of building a new network: where does insurance come into play? New infrastructure is, after all, expensive. 

Doug Dawson answers this question clearly and comprehensively in a recent post. The short of it is that in the vast majority of instances, damage for the conduit and fiber portions of the network get covered either by FEMA or the utility provider that owns the poles. This is, he notes, separate from the buildings and other non-cable/conduit portions of an outside plant, which are often covered by some sort of insurance. 

Posted April 21, 2022 by Emma Gautier

Over the past eighteen months, southeastern-Mississippi based Dixie Electric Power Association (Dixie EPA) has gone from presenting its initial buildout plans for a fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) network, all the way to connecting its 5,000th subscriber. Because of electric cooperatives like Dixie that are getting organized and prioritizing connectivity for their members, Mississippi is likely to become one of the states with the best rural connectivity within the next five years.

Posted April 20, 2022 by Karl Bode

Freshly proposed legislation in Missouri would prohibit towns and cities from using federal funds to improve broadband access in areas telecom monopolies already claim to serve. It’s just the latest attempt by incumbent telecom giants to ensure that an historic wave of federal broadband funding won’t harm their revenues by boosting local broadband competition.

Missouri SB 1074 - Sponsored by Sen. Dan Hegeman (R., District 12), proclaims that “no federal funds received by the state, political subdivision, city, town, or village shall be expended for the construction of retail broadband internet infrastructure unless the project to be constructed is located in an unserved area or underserved area.” It passed the Senate Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment Committee on April 13th.

Posted April 19, 2022 by Henry

This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by three colleagues from the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at ILSR including Sean Gonsalves (Communications Team Lead), Ry Marcattilio-McCracken (Research Team Lead) and DeAnne Cuellar (Outreach Team Lead).

During the conversation, the four talk about Sean’s writing that highlights improvements to New York’s new budget bill, and how it sets the table for municipal broadband in the Empire State. The group also discusses Ry’s work detailing Comcast’s recent expansion of its stock buyback program. DeAnne joins the conversation to talk through problems with the federal government’s decision to tax broadband grant money.

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